City plans for summer tourism

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City plans for summer tourism
Photo/Visit Alexandria
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By Catherine Kane | [email protected]

Even as fuel and flight prices soar, Alexandria is expected to continue its strong tourism recovery this summer. City officials and local business leaders are looking forward to a summer of rebounding retail, restaurant and hospitality revenue.

Visit Alexandria, the city’s tourism office, is planning a number of promotions and events this summer to boost economic activity. The Key to the City Hotel Bonus, launched this spring, provides guests who stay at participating hotels with a complimentary Key to the City Attractions Passes; the passes provide free access to a variety of historical sites and museums. On July 29, Port City Brewing will be hosting FOX 5 News’ “Zip Trip” series highlighting “Alexandria’s West End neighborhood and businesses in a multi-hour live news production,” according to Visit Alexandria’s Rebecca Doser.

Joe Haggerty, Alexandria Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, said that the city has continued to be “flexible and supportive” in aiding businesses’ recovery from the pandemic. The city’s fiscal year 2020 financial report noted an 8.6% – or $12.1 million – decrease in local tax revenue from 2019 and attributed this decline to pandemic-related economic woes. In the 2021 financial report, the local tax revenue increased “due to a stronger than expected recovery in business and sales taxes.”

The summer months tend to be fruitful for local businesses in the city as domestic, international and local tourists flock to restaurants, hotels and historic attractions. Haggerty said that this summer, the Chamber and Visit Alexandria will be focussed on advertising Alexandria’s businesses to local tourists who live within 50 miles of the city. This summer will be the first time that the DASH bus is fare-free; Haggerty anticipates “development” due to the city’s overhauling of the bus system last fall.

A cornerstone of the city’s hospitality sector hasn’t rebounded to pre-pandemic levels. “Business travel isn’t back yet,” Haggerty said. “Hotels are at about 65% occupancy right now.”

In the Chamber’s 2022 Legislative Agenda, they urged the city to consider making temporary, pandemic zoning regulations permanent and prioritize economic recovery for small businesses in their allocation of federal COVID19 relief dollars. Haggerty said he is optimistic about this summer as the city continues its “strong economic recovery.”

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