How “cool” is DC? If you ask the folks at Destination DC, as the DC Convention and Tourism Corporation now calls itself, the answer is “very.” Cool was the theme of a party it hosted on Tuesday evening at the Kogod Courtyard of the National Portrait Gallery for 550 invited guests. Mayor Vincent Gray, who is running for reelection, and DC Council member Vincent Orange, who is running for Gray’s job, both made appearances. The event launched a yearlong marketing campaign designed to promote “one-of-a-kind and under-the-radar experiences that await overnight visitors to the District.”
The party featured drinks designed by mixologist Derek Brown, several buffets, a spot to get T-shirts made with DC-centric slogans such as “locally grown,” and the opportunity to pose for a photo against a backdrop of the city at night—enjoying Washington after dark is one emphasis of the campaign. (The other, not on the agenda Tuesday, is to reach out to families.) The Four Seasons Hotel had representatives there to talk about their DC Cool program focused on “single, female guests” called Gal on the Go. It features a guide to fitness studios, plus in-room items such as hair and bath products and beauty items to pack in a handbag or briefcase. The hotel’s Bourbon Steak restaurant has created an “after dark” going-out guide.
To hear Destination DC tell it, the tourist business in Washington is healthy. In 2012, it said, the District received more than 18.9 million visitors, who spent $6.2 billion. Destination DC chose the National Portrait Gallery for the party because February will bring the opening of “American Cool,” an exhibition of 100 mostly black-and-white photos of famous Americans.