Destination DC (DDC) is expanding its strategies to capitalize on opportunities to win international business in cooperation with Events DC. Washington, D.C. will host the International Association of Professional Congress Organizers (IAPCO) Council Meeting, Oct. 13-16, 2016, expand its efforts targeting the Chinese MICE market and position D.C. to attract new market segments, all as part of its updated global marketing efforts.

“With 21 major citywide events and conventions in 2017, bringing an estimated impact of $357 million and 45,565 total room nights, we’re poised to have one of the strongest years for business in recent history,” said Elliott Ferguson, president and CEO of DDC. “However, as we constantly look at new ways to attract business to the nation’s capital, we see major opportunities for growth in international business.”

As the host city of the IAPCO Council, DDC will showcase the destination to 12 industry leaders who place international business and influence future international congresses of all sizes. These key decision makers will experience restaurants and cultural attractions in the nation’s capital, and also meet with stakeholders and local associations to provide insight on working globally.

“Washington, D.C. is an ideal U.S. destination for international meetings because it appeals to a wide audience, is easy to access and is constantly innovating,” said Mathias Posch, vice president, IAPCO.

DDC is also focusing on opportunities to attract the Chinese MICE market. China is Washington, D.C.’s top overseas market with 300,000 Chinese visitors in 2015, up 36% over 2014. According to IHS Global, the city is forecasted to receive more than 500,000 Chinese visitors by 2020.

“Coming off a successful trip to China this summer, we look forward to continuing to build relationships with Chinese buyers at IMEX America and will explore future inbound FAMs with the DC Center China, aligning with [government] initiatives,” said Melissa Riley, VP, convention sales and services, DDC.

DDC said it is also focusing on positioning the city as a knowledge hub for two markets with untapped potential for the city, technology and biotechnology/pharmaceutical, as well as the already established education and medical markets. The organization is publishing four white papers that will establish the advantages and benefits for organizations within these sectors to meet in D.C. DDC will work closely with its Ambassador Circle members to roll out these efforts to the international market. 

In 2015, a record 21.3 million total visitors came to Washington, D.C., up 5% over 2014—comprised of 19.3 million domestic and 2 million overseas visitors, the later up 7.8% over 2014. Though 9% of the total number of visitors to D.C., international visitors represent 27% of the visitor spending.

Washington, D.C.’s landscape is booming with $9.6 billion in development underway, including the Wharf, a 24 acre $2 billion project along the Southwest Waterfront opening Oct. 12, 2017, and nearly 3,800 hotel rooms in the pipeline. The city’s dining scene is gaining international attention, and on Oct. 13, 2016, Washington, D.C., became the fourth North American destination to receive a Michelin Guide to its restaurants.

Washington, D.C. was also recently named “Restaurant City of the Year” by Bon Appétit. Smithsonian Institution’s highly anticipated National Museum of African American History and Culture opened Sept. 24, 2016. The National Gallery of Art’s East Building reopened Sept. 30, 2016 after a three-year renovation.

The city is also gearing up for the upcoming U.S. Presidential Inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017, and has launched washington.org/inauguration as a complete resource for hotel packages and special events.