Drivers of the buses and motorcoaches that packed the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on May 16 were pleasantly surprised with gift bags and a free box lunch in celebration of “DC Loves Buses Day.”
Travel and tourism professionals from across the District of Columbia joined with staff from the United Motorcoach Association and other associations to promote group bus travel to the nation’s capital.
The event is sponsored by Destination DC (DDC), the official destination marketing organization for Washington. It was created to show appreciation for motorcoach drivers who bring group travelers to the capital and to thank group tour operators and bus companies for making Washington one of the top group tour destinations in the U.S.
“The District is a small, complex area with constant route changes, blocked roads, rule changes, and one of the toughest idling laws in the country,” said UMA President & CEO Scott Michael. “Drivers are often overwhelmed and perhaps feel a little underappreciated. It’s our opportunity to say thank you for the tough job they do.”
Important to local economy
This year’s event was held on the National Mall, which stretches between the White House and the U.S. Capitol and is home to many Smithsonian museums and national monuments. The destination is a perennial favorite for school bus groups and tour groups in general.
“Even as the motorcoach industry is challenged by a driver shortage, we know the important role motorcoach drivers play in helping move groups around Washington, D.C., and their impact on the local economy,” says Elliott L. Ferguson, II, president and CEO of Destination DC. “Today we show our appreciation and give thanks to motorcoach drivers – the unsung heroes who bring the business to our city and have helped drive D.C. to become one of the top group tour destinations in the nation.”
Along with DDC and UMA, the hospitality partners include the District Department of Transportation, National Park Service, National Tour Association, National Mall and Memorial Parks, Union Station Parking Garage, American Bus Association, Student & Youth Travel Association and International Motorcoach Group.
DDC and its partners thanked motorcoach drivers at key locations in the city, including Union Station Parking Garage and motorcoach dropoff areas around the National Mall and L’Enfant Plaza. Teams from DDC member organizations provided 200 lunches donated by Carmine’s and Pinstripes and gift bags with Fogo de Chao gift cards and more. They also communicated the latest regulations and important industry and safety updates. Bus drivers following the anti-idling laws were included in a prize drawing sponsored by DDOT.
Group travel is an important segment of tourism to Washington, and DDC helps operators with unique itinerary options, activities and resources for planning group and student trips. In 2021, DC had 19.1 million visitors, up from 13.3 million visitors in 2020.
Spring in Washington is an especially popular time because of student group travel and the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which this year brought more than a million visitors to the city.