D.C. tourism 2013: Sequestration, construction could hurt tourism

After what's been a banner couple of years for tourism in D.C., budget cuts, construction and Congress are now putting a damper on visits for many tourist.

The automatic across-the-boards budget cuts is the biggest culprit. On Wednesday, the Smithsonian begins shutting down several galleries in three buildings through the end of September.

“The White House was one of the things we wanted to do and we weren't able to do it, so it was frustrating with that,” says Chris Crump, a disappointed Michigan tourist.

The National Archives is now operating on shorter than usual spring and summer hours. And while it’s not sequester related, the Washington Monument, wrapped in scaffolding and cordoned off, only adds to the feeling that D.C. is not welcoming.

“It just makes it harder,” says D.C. tour guide Mike Torres. “These people come a long distance to see many things and now we have less time to see it all.”

Officials with Destination D.C. say despite the closures, there are so many other options for tourists that sequestration won’t hurt the number of visitors to our town.

“Just getting back from an international trip, the number one question is how does it impact Washington D.C., and the reality is, only 3 percent of the 18 million annual tourist to Washington, D.C. visit the White House,” says Elliot Ferguson of Destination D.C.