Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Monday, October 14, 2013

DC is open for business, does it matter?

Destination DC has a campaign to promote visiting DC while all the federal museums, monuments, and parks are closed.  See "D.C. Marketing Group Launches Campaign to Promote Tourism Amid Shutdown" from the Washington City Paper.

The video seems a bit pathetic to me, repeating ad infinitum, "DC is open for business."--especially because the municipal government faces imminent shutdown as it runs out of reserve monies that it can spend legally lacking the authorization that it needs from Congress to spend even locally generated monies.

It's kinda like the six most important words that McDonald's coined to increase the economic return from the average sale:
Do you want fries with that?
To the average tourist, consumption of DC's local heritage, restaurants, retail, etc., is an add-on sale coincident to the primary sale of visiting the Federal City.

Granted the local marketing campaign relates to the issue of defining the local city as a complement to the National Capital-Federal City narrative.  Yes, there is local heritage.  But that isn't what draws people to the city.

I suppose they don't have much choice and have to do such a campaign.

That's great that DC is open for business as boosterism, but doesn't help the people who come here to visit the federal (mostly--Mount Vernon, the George Washington plantation, isn't federally owned) museums, monuments, and parks located in DC and Northern Virginia.

Or for people who visit to conduct business related to the federal government, which right now lacks the "head space" to focus on business not relevant to ending the federal government shutdown or the three days hence Federal debt default.

Otherwise the reporting is that lots of retailers and restaurants have lost 50% or more of their business.  The subway system has a 20%+ drop in ridership.  Although some of the private museums like the Newseum and the Phillips Collection--which over the weekend opened a new exhibit featuring the works of Vincent Van Gogh--are experiencing a significant rise in business. 

But this is likely to drop off as people change their plans and cancel upcoming visits.

All the more reason to have deeper contingency planning for "local" tourism.

Or for Congress to execute its Constitutionally required duties of passing the federal budget.  At least there are some other locally significant impacts from this impasse, as Ken Cuccinelli, Tea Party stalwart and Republican candidate for Virginia Governor, becomes less likely to win with each day that the shutdown continues.  See "In Virginia, government shutdown already hurting a GOP candidate" from the Los Angeles Times.

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At 11:47 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

on a positive note, Georgetown was packed to the gills with foreigners buying left and right. I suspect a lot of them are shopping rather than visiting monuments. Wish we get more granular tax sale data on that!

At 12:22 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

In Chicago, I know that they can get sales tax data by business district (data comes from the State), because such data were used by the academics who did the study in the city on the economic impact of Walmart.

It was hard for critics of the study, because the data were what they were, and not subject to manipulation.


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