National Cherry Blossom Festival brings DC over $100 million
The National Cherry Blossom Festival is a weeklong cultural celebration that marks the arrival of spring in Washington. The festival has been around for 92 years and trees were gifted 107 years ago by Japan to celebrate their friendship with the United States. After a chaotic economic winter season, organizers declared the festival’s net economic revenue between $100 to $160 million for the District.
Nora Strumpf, festival spokeswoman, predicted that the city’s economic gain due to the festival will be around millions, similar to previous years. However, economic gains are still being processed.
Even if the city did not communicate any specific data on business activity and revenue, the city’s agencies highlight the cultural and economic impact of the festival for D.C. residents.
Elliot Ferguson, president of the district’s tourism agency, Destination DC, confirmed via email that in 2017, his agency recorded 22.8 million visitors to Washington DC.
“The visitors spent over $7.5 billion in the city, generating $814 million in local taxes. Visitors supported 75 jobs and $3.1 billion in wages for DC workers,” Ferguson said.
This year, Washington hosted the NCAA Men’s Basketball East Region at Capital One Arena on March 29 and 31, and the Washington Auto Show from April 5 to 14.
Ferguson said it is not only visitors that participate in the economic development for the Washington. Businesses, particularly restaurants, deployed efforts to help generate money for the community.
“Whenever there are major events in the city, our local hotels, restaurants and businesses benefit,” Ferguson said. “There are three citywide meetings in the month of March, bringing an estimated 41,000 delegates spending an estimated $69.8 million in DC.
Restaurants and hotels are known to benefit from visitors. They offer cherry blossom-themed packages and activities. Lindsay Reid, marketing manager for the Capital Hilton hotels, viewed the festival as a good time to visit the city. Hilton Hotel had 66 different hotels that were included in the National Cherry Blossom Festival, including all their hotels in the DMV region.
The group offered their guests a petal pass package for their hotels. The petal pass gave their guests access to Cherry Blossom Festival events and activities. Since Japanese tradition was the theme for the festival, the group highlighted Japanese culture with Japanese whiskey tasting paired with a bento box filled with Japanese treats.
“I think it’s something fun and exciting for them to help celebrate cherry blossom season,” Reid said.
Diana Mayhew, president of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, made sure to honor the tradition and history of the festival, and to let visitors know that there is much to discover during the festival.
“We work very hard to make sure people know there’s more to the festival than trees, music, art, and food.” Mayhew said.
Mayhew wanted to help turn Washington into a springtime destination.
“We really encourage residents to be involved,” Mayhew said. “The entire city has the 14th Street bridge lit up. Retailers have window displays. The city is in bloom.”
The festival celebrates a donation of 3,000 trees by Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki in 1912. It is a four-week celebrations that welcome more than 1.5 million people around the world to enjoy creative programs that to promote contemporary and traditional arts.
This year’s festival featured an adaptation of “Sailor Moon,” a popular manga cartoon, at Warner Theater on March 23 to kickoff festivities. The festival held kite and Petalpalooza events to highlight DC.
Beyond the celebration, volunteers planted over 200 cherry trees in Anacostia to restore the environment. Even if concrete studies on the economic impact of the festival is yet to be done, the festival has a positive outcome for the district, according to the District of Columbia ‘s Economic and Revenue Trends for March 2019.
During the month of February, general sales tax generated $1.5 billion for the city, a 3.9% increase compared to the previous fiscal year. An increase of 7.3% and 4.2% are projected on general sales tax revenues for fiscal years 2020 and 2021.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival is complete, but events will continue. The District will be hosting the DC Jazz festival in June.