New Research Reveals Why Visitors Love Alexandria January 29, 2015

New Research Reveals Why Visitors Love Alexandria

94% of visitors are likely to recommend Alexandria to family and friends

Alexandria, VA - The latest research coming out of Alexandria, Virginia's tourism office reveals that 94% of visitors who come to Alexandria would recommend it to family and friends. An independent study of 4,800 random households within a 400-mile radius (excluding Alexandria itself) also uncovered the motivating factors, favorite activities, and spending habits of visitors. The findings were released today as part two of a study that demonstrated the return-on-investment and effectiveness of Alexandria's tourism advertising.

Motivating Factors

Alexandria's restaurants and food scene was the number one motivating factor in choosing Alexandria, mentioned by almost half of all visitors (46%). Other top ten factors include close proximity to Washington, DC; easy to get to by car, train, and plane; clean and safe; friends and family live in the area; walkability; waterfront location; overall ambiance and atmosphere; historic significance; and well-preserved 18th and 19th century architecture.

More than half of visitors (54%) also spent time in DC as part of their Alexandria trip, double that of the next most popular destination to include on an Alexandria trip, which is Arlington (27%).

Favorite Things to Do

Once in town, dining in restaurants was found to be the most popular visitor activity (60%). Shopping, strolling historic King Street, and visiting the waterfront are other top activities, each enjoyed by more than one in three visitors. One in five took part in Alexandria's historic sites. Visiting local friends and family; the Torpedo Factory Art Center; art and antique galleries; Mount Vernon; and taking a history tour round out the top ten activities.

Visitor Spending Patterns

The average Alexandria hotel visitor spends more than three times as much money as a day tripper ($406 vs. $131). Beyond the cost of lodging, hotel guests outspend day trippers in every category: nearly twice as much on dining, twice as much on retail, and five times as much on entertainment and sightseeing. This finding reinforces the economic importance of marketing to the overnight visitor.

Return-on-Investment and Advertising Effectiveness

The new visitor profile data comes as the second installment of a two-part study whose initial findings announced in September demonstrated return-on-investment values and the effectiveness of Alexandria's tourism campaign.

The study found a 171:1 return-on-investment (ROI) for the "Extraordinary Alexandria" tourism advertising campaign, an increase from a 130:1 ROI found by a 2010 study of the prior campaign. The new study, conducted by Destination Analysts, determined that for every dollar spent by the City of Alexandria on campaign advertising, $171 was generated in visitor spending at local businesses and $6 came back to the city in tax revenue, up from $4 in city tax revenue per ad dollar in 2010.

The study found that the "Extraordinary Alexandria" campaign doubled ad recall, reflecting the effectiveness of a new look and diversified media strategy. Nearly a quarter (23%) recalled seeing an "Extraordinary Alexandria" ad, a boost from the prior campaign which had a 10% recall. More than two-thirds of survey respondents felt that the "Extraordinary Alexandria" ads were effective.

The study findings were presented by Erin Francis-Cummings, President of Destination Analysts, a firm whose clients around the country include the tourism agencies of San Francisco, Phoenix, Santa Barbara, Washington, DC, and Charlottesville. The complete study can be viewed on under About Us > Research & Reports.

New Name for Tourism Office

New data will both influence and reinforce marketing strategies of Alexandria's tourism office, which today announces a new name for the organization: Visit Alexandria. Established in 1996 as the Alexandria Convention & Visitors Association, tourism officials will now do business as Visit Alexandria, creating consistency with the website,, and aligning Alexandria with destination marketing organizations (DMOs) across the country that have updated their names to better reflect the modern, dynamic role they play.

Visit Alexandria is a nonprofit membership organization representing more than 300 businesses. Visit Alexandria's mission is to generate tourism and meetings that increase revenues and promote the City of Alexandria, Virginia and its assets. Tourism contributes both to the economic health of the city and quality of life for its residents.

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