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DC celebrates another year of record-breaking tourist crowds - Colorado Springs Gazette

photo - In this photo taken April 19, 2015, people walk in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington. A record number of U.S. tourists visited Washington
photo - In this photo taken April 19, 2015, people walk in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington. A record number of U.S. tourists visited Washington last year.The city’s tourism bureau, Destination DC, announced Tuesday, May 3, 2016, that the nation’s capital welcomed 19.3 million domestic visitors in 2015. That’s up one million from the 2014 total, and it shows the continuing strength of Washington’s tourism industry after the Great Recession. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
In this photo taken April 19, 2015, people walk in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington. A record number of U.S. tourists visited Washington last year.The city’s tourism bureau, Destination DC, announced Tuesday, May 3, 2016, that the nation’s capital welcomed 19.3 million domestic visitors in 2015. That’s up one million from the 2014 total, and it shows the continuing strength of Washington’s tourism industry after the Great Recession. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (AP) — More than 19 million U.S. tourists visited Washington in 2015, an increase of 1 million over the previous year and a record for the nation's capital as its tourism industry continues to make steady progress since the Great Recession.

Foreign and domestic tourists spent a record $7.1 billion in Washington, according to data released Tuesday by Destination DC, the city's tourism bureau.

The domestic visitation total was up by 5.3 percent over 2014, according to the data, and the total amount spent was up 4 percent. International tourist totals from 2015 will be released in August.

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

"Year after year, more visitors are coming to the District, which is a huge boon for our city," Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a statement.

Spending on hotels and retail increased, and tourism officials were particularly encouraged that spending on entertainment was up by 2.6 percent, suggesting visitors are being less cautious with their dollars than they were during the recession.

Tourism in Washington decreased after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and again during the recession of 2007-2009. In 2011, the city finally broke the domestic-visitation record set in 2000, and the number of visitors has increased steadily since then.

One reason for the increase: more hotels. Nine new hotels opened between 2010 and 2015, adding more than 3,000 rooms to the city's inventory. The largest is the Marriott Marquis adjacent to the city's convention center, which opened in 2014.

A study commissioned by Destination DC showed the city received $2.65 in taxes for every dollar it spent to promote tourism.

"These coveted numbers represent the impact of tourism investment in the nation's capital," Destination DC president Elliott Ferguson said in a statement.

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Follow Ben Nuckols on Twitter at https://twitter.com/APBenNuckols . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/ben-nuckols .

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