By Patricia Washington
President and CEO, Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association
To the editor:
We recently celebrated National Travel and Tourism Week, making it a great time to recognize the incredible contributions visitors make to Alexandria each year. In 2012, visitor spending accounted for $739 million in visitor spending, 6,000 jobs and $23 million in city tax revenue (that reduced the average tax burden for Alexandrians by $365 per household).
Tourism also directly benefits our city’s strong business community and fosters a creative and entrepreneurial spirit. Our unique collection of independent businesses, both retail and restaurants, are assets found in few destinations today. They make our city extraordinary.
Tourism is a point of pride. As ambassadors, we are proud to showcase our city to visiting friends, relatives and business colleagues, who marvel at our history, architecture, waterfront, open spaces and quality of life.
As we look forward to the transformation of our historic waterfront, we can anticipate with pride and excitement what’s to come — riverside parks with arts and activities that will enhance the quality of life for all Alexandrians and attract people to the city’s Potomac shoreline all year.
To paraphrase Laurie Olin, founder of OLIN and the landscape architect charged with designing our new waterfront, Parisians didn’t build Paris for the tourists — they built a beautiful city for themselves. In return, everyone wanted to visit. Alexandria is on its way to a similar state, with the economic benefit that will be a foundation of our city’s future.