Government shutdown 2013: D.C. tourism taking hit

WASHINGTON (WJLA) - Some 15,000 medical professionals are converging on the Convention Center this week for meetings. They're occupying more than 34,000 area hotel rooms.

They are impressive numbers that could have been bigger, if not for the shutdown.

Many convention-goers changed plans because of the situation in D.C., including Hartford resident Scott Ellner. He altered his plans to bring his wife and two kids along for the trip.

“I imagine the kids are little disappointed. They were hoping they could go to the White House to the Capitol and see the memorials,” Ellner says. “They're disappointed.”

The folks at Destination D.C. are keeping a close eye on the shutdown developments. They've worked hard to schedule plenty of convention and visitors to come to town. But the shutdown is having an impact.

“A lot of groups are changing their plans, if they can do that” says Elliott Ferguson of Destination D.C. “For those who cannot change their plans, we're providing them with information of things they could do in Washington.”

Week two of the shutdown is really starting to have an impact on the tourism business. The city is coming off a record year, that saw nearly 19 million visitors come to the area. Those numbers are starting to take a hit.
Many local hotels say they're occupancy numbers have dropped more than 25 percent from last week.

The reservation book at the Dubliner Pub near Union Station highlights the problem. Pre-shutdown, it was packed. Post shutdown, there’s lots of cancellations. The bar manager says business is down 15 to 20 percent.

“Just less people coming through the door,” says Dubliner manager Daniel Coleman. “Less people have beers, less people having lunch, less people having dinner.”