The coronavirus has already cost the District of Columbia more than $60 million in lost revenue.
Destination DC, the marketing organization for the District, told Yahoo Finance six large events it had booked have canceled, which adds up to a loss of $60.3 million in business.
Tens of thousands of people had planned to visit the District between March and May for the events, including about 6,000 attendees for the IMF Spring Meeting in mid-April. The American Urological Association canceled its May event, which according to Destination DC, was slated to bring in 16,500 attendees, 47,400 total hotel room nights and $24.9 million in economic impact.
The $60 million figure doesn’t take into account the canceled National Cherry Blossom Festival, which is a typically a boon for local businesses, according to Destination DC.
Asim Shaikh, CEO of CBDx, a small marketing firm outside Washington, told Yahoo Finance his company has already lost tens of thousands of dollars in business due to coronavirus cancelations.
“Our customers have conferences and events that we do a lot of marketing materials for, and because they're canceling their conferences, that obviously affects our business,” said Shaikh.
Tour guides in ‘panic mode’
While the canceled corporate events are very costly, local tour guides are also feeling the pain of schools and families canceling their trips to the nation’s capital.
Tour guides told Yahoo Finance tourism has largely come to a screeching halt, as the coronavirus outbreak shuts down tourist hotspots and keeps would-be travelers at home.
Jackie Frend, president of the Guild of Professional Tour Guides of Washington D.C., said March through June is usually the busiest time of year for tour operators.
“Typically we have so many tours coming in that we cannot handle all of the requests for tours,” said Frend. “Our tours started canceling, I understand, in February. They just haven't stopped.”
The guild has more than 550 members, including 450 tour guides and 100 tour operators. Frend said some smaller tour operators are “on the brink of collapse.”
“They just don't know what to do, and so they're panicking. They're in panic mode,” said Frend. “I'm hearing from our tour operators who are struggling, some of the smaller ones don't know whether they're going to be in business in another month.”
Usual tourist destinations like the Smithsonian museums, the Supreme Court, the U.S. Capitol complex, Arlington National Cemetery and other iconic destinations are closed to visitors.
“I'm hearing from our guides that other work is just gone. It just dried up,” said Frend. “Everything that we go to just suddenly, no more. No more visitors.”
The most recent research from Destination DC shows nearly 24 million people visited the District in 2018, spending $7.8 billion. Nearly 2 million of those visitors traveled from outside the United States. Destination DC said D.C. visitors supported more than 76,500 local jobs in 2018. As health experts urge Americans to stay home and the Trump administration locks down some international travel, local businesses are feeling the pressure.
Justin Emata, general manager at Capital Segway tours, told Yahoo Finance he’s seen a significant drop in tour traffic.
“The closest comparison—actually, not even close — the last time everything shut down was during the government shutdown, but at least people were still going out and about then,” said Emata. “It’s a new thing for everybody.”
Dan Simons is the co-owner of Farmers Restaurant Group, which includes several restaurants popular with both tourists and locals. Simons said in an email: “there’s no doubt the drop in tourism is directly reducing restaurant sales,” though he noted neighborhood regulars are still ordering food.
Some restaurants in the District are shutting down or moving to takeout only after new restrictions from the mayor’s office and new guidelines from the CDC, warning against large gatherings.
While the Trump administration and Congress are attempting to secure some financial relief for those affected by the virus, the future is full of uncertainty for local workers and small businesses.
“First and foremost —get the pandemic under control. That would help a lot,” said Emata.
Jessica Smith is a reporter for Yahoo Finance based in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter at @JessicaASmith8.