Arlington Tourism Organization Revamps County’s Brand

The Arlington Convention and Visitors Services spotlights diverse offerings with “All in Arlington” slogan.
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With its new tourism campaign, the county’s convention and visitors Service says people can find it “All in Arlington.” (Photo by Jonathan Kozowyk / ACVS)

Long known mainly for its proximity to D.C., Arlington has come into its own. That’s the motivation behind the Arlington Convention and Visitors Service (ACVS) new branding campaign, which touts the county’s diversity.

Announced Aug. 3, the campaign’s central message is “All in Arlington” — as in, the 26-square-mile urban community has it all: art, green spaces, festivals, restaurants, hotels, shopping and history. The rebrand includes the launch of a new website and a media and advertising campaign designed to attract business and leisure travelers alike.

“We have always talked about Arlington as a place in the center of the capital region that is very close to D.C. with somewhat of a price advantage, and that was our main pillar,” says Emily Cassell, director of ACVS, a division of Arlington Economic Development (AED) that promotes the county as the best place to stay, shop, dine and play when visiting the Washington, D.C. region.

But in working with Fuseideas, a marketing research firm, a theme emerged among visitors and residents: “I’m here because it’s everything I want in one place. It’s nature. It’s great dining. It’s cozy neighborhoods,” Cassell adds. “We realized through the research that Arlington really can stand on its own now.”

Sure, popular sites such as Arlington National Cemetery, the Marine Corps War Memorial and the Air Force Memorial are big draws. But in recent years, Arlington has become a foodie destination, developed a fine arts scene and welcomed the headquarters of companies such as Amazon (in National Landing) and Nestle (in Rosslyn).

“We really wanted to make sure that people saw those things, but also the amazing energy of our neighborhoods or local restaurants or stores, and arts organizations,” Cassell says. For instance, more than 100 languages are spoken on Columbia Pike alone.

All of that makes now the right time for a tourism brand refresh, but Cassell has two other reasons as well. One is that ACVS had not done one since about 2008, and the other focuses on the changed landscape after the pandemic. Northern Virginia makes up 42% of travel activity in the commonwealth, and it was hardest hit by declines in tourism revenues in 2020 and 2021.

For instance, hotel room occupancy dropped from 74% in fiscal 2019 to 54% in fiscal 2020 and 29% in fiscal 2021. Visitor spending fell by 57% in 2020 after a record year in 2019.

ACVS’s new approach aims to reverse these trends, and the county’s fiscal 2023 proposed budget spending for the Travel and Tourism Promotion Fund is more than $2.5 million, a 128% increase from the fiscal 2022 adopted budget. In fact, the budget projects that hotel occupancy will hit 59% in fiscal 2023.

The branding makeover also makes use of a $3.25 million grant from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021. Good through June 2024, it requires the money to be used for generating overnight hotel stays and visitor spending.

“An area we’re really focusing on this year — and you can see it on the new website — is accessibility,” Cassell says. “We’re really going to be building out content related to accessibility resources for people coming here with any kind of visible or invisible disability.” For example, clicking an icon of a person in a wheelchair on the website pulls up a tool from UserWay that lets site visitors adjust text size, images and contrast to make webpages more understandable.

Additionally, ACVS is incorporating into the rebranding recent accolades, such as being the country’s fittest city and home to the fourth best park system.

“We were always just that place across the river,” says Cara O’Donnell, assistant director of communications at AED. “The proximity to D.C. is always going to be part of who we are. We were part of D.C. back before, as I like to say, all the cool kids moved across to the Virginia side. But people are really starting to discover that Arlington is a vibrant, culture-filled community all on its own, and they want to see more of it. And we think this brand is going to help to showcase that.”

Categories: Community, Neighborhoods