Visit Alexandria releases statistics, VR plans at annual meeting

Visit Alexandria releases statistics, VR plans at annual meeting
One of Visit Alexandria's VR experiences at Captain's Row (Courtesy Visit Alexandria)

By Alexa Epitropoulos |

City tourism organization Visit Alexandria released its latest stats and kicked off a new virtual reality campaign at its annual meeting on Monday evening.

The campaign includes virtual tours of 20 local attractions, including King
Street, the waterfront, Captain’s Row, The Birchmere and the Torpedo Factory, that can be viewed on a mobile app, on its website, or through specialized VR headsets.

“We want to inspire people to visit, and we know that once people come, they’re hooked,” Visit Alexandria CEO Patricia Washington said in her remarks on Monday. “So, we can bring the city to them … VR is what visitors are thirsting for.”

As part of its new VR campaign, Washington said another goal is to increase visibility on Google, namely through Google Maps and Streetview. The apps now allow businesses to provide high-definition, 360 imagery, where viewers can take an online tour of the interiors of businesses. Visit Alexandria established a program that its member businesses participate in. Hummingbird Restaurant and the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum are two of the inaugural participants.

At the meeting, Visit Alexandria released annual stats for FY2017, which measures between June 30, 2016 and June 30 of this year.

Hotel occupancy remained largely flat, ticking up slightly from 72.7 percent in FY16 to 73 percent in FY17, in comparison to a 65.6 percent nationally, 78.4 percent in D.C. and 72.3 percent in the D.C. suburbs. Its revenue per available room also increased slightly from $110 to $113 between fiscal years.

Washington said both stats are signs that Alexandria has been able to “absorb” rooms added by hotels that are newcomers to the market. The city’s average daily rate for a hotel room was $154, in comparison to $125 nationally and $234 in D.C. Visit Alexandria also cited stats from the Virginia Tourism Corporation revealing that Alexandria attracted $790 million in visitor spending, which produced about $26.6 million in tax revenue for the city.

Visit Alexandria said next year it aims to increase its video content, leverage its partnership with MGM National Harbor as The Wharf opens in southwest D.C. and target specialized tourism groups, including wedding, health care and international travel.