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D.C. sets record with more than 2M foreign tourists

Ben Nuckols
Associated Press

Washington — More than 21.3 million tourists visited Washington last year, with both domestic and international visitors setting records, the tourism bureau for the nation’s capital announced Wednesday.

International tourists topped 2 million for the first time, fueled by an influx of travelers from China, according to data released Wednesday by Destination DC. The tourism bureau announced in May that 19.3 million U.S. tourists traveled to Washington last year.

Foreign and domestic tourists spent $7.1 billion, a $300 million increase over 2014, when the city drew 20.2 million visitors.

China sent the most foreign tourists, with 300,000 visitors, up 36 percent from 2014. The United Kingdom was second with 201,000 travelers, followed by Germany, Australia and France. The total of 2 million doesn’t include visitors from Canada or Mexico because the Department of Commerce doesn’t collect the same data at land borders.

The tourism industry supports 74,000 jobs in the District of Columbia, according to Destination DC.

“With vibrant neighborhoods, iconic museums and monuments, and a world-class restaurant scene, I look forward to another banner year for tourism in the nation’s capital,” Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a statement.

Destination DC is working on a new program to help hotels and other attractions better connect with the surge of Chinese visitors. However, the outlook for British tourism is uncertain because of the weakened pound that followed voters’ decision to leave the European Union.