Council discusses Spirit Cruises, receives tourism update

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By Missy Schrott | [email protected]

City council discussed the renewal of a license agreement with Spirit Cruises and heard a tourism update from Visit Alexandria at its legislative meeting Tuesday evening.

The city’s previous agreement with Spirit Cruises LLC expired in 2017. The proposed renewal would allow the business to use commercial slips in the city marina for five years.

Councilors requested clarification about a condition in the agreement that specifies the marina can’t be used before 9:30 a.m.

City Manager Mark Jinks said the intent of that condition was to prevent daily commuter activity, not restrict transportation for parades, marches or other events that may occur before 9:30. Jinks said city staff would add clarifying language before the renewal goes to public hearing on March 17.

With Alexandria’s tourism season quickly approaching, representatives from Visit Alexandria presented council with an update.

Visit Alexandria President and CEO Patricia Washington said the most recently available data for visitor spending and employment attributable to travel and tourism was for 2016. Spending increased by $19 million from 2015 to 2016 to a record $790 million, while Alexandria jobs created by the industry increased to 6,450 – a 100-job increase.

In addition, Washington said the organization’s social media following has increased by 29 percent, with press hits up by 11 percent. She also mentioned a recent designation granted by Time’s MONEY magazine.

Tuesday morning, MONEY ranked Alexandria number one on its 2018 Best in Travel list for U.S. destinations. The list was composed of the top destinations that deliver the highest value, based on more than 32,000 data points, according to MONEY’s press release. It established a week trip for two in Alexandria would cost $2,540.

“Today’s announcement that we’re the best travel destination in the whole country is very exciting,” Mayor Allison Silberberg said at the meeting. “Everyone in our city works so hard to make it beautiful, to make it fascinating. It’s a very welcoming city, I think. You can’t fake that – it just is, and it’s a wonderful quality that we have.”

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