UMA takes part in DC Loves Buses Day

On a sunny, breezy day in the Nation’s capital, volunteers hit the streets around the National Mall to speak with drivers, handing out gifts and lunches to thank drivers on DC Loves Buses Day.

“The National Mall was swarming with motorcoaches from all over the map,”  President and CEO Scott Michael said of the May 16 event. “It’s always fun to see UMA Members’ motorcoaches here in the District and say hello to the drivers and thank them for the great job they do.” 

DC Loves Buses
Many bus and travel groups took part in DC Loves Buses.

Supporting the event were the District Department of Transportation, National Park Service-National Mall and Memorial Parks, American Bus Association, United Motorcoach Association, Union Station Parking Garage, National Tour Association, Student & Youth Travel Association, and the International Motorcoach Group. Carmine’s Italian Restaurant, a favorite eatery with groups, provided 250 complimentary lunches to drivers.

This year was the 13th anniversary of DC Loves Buses Day. While the event focuses on thanking professional motorcoach drivers and group travel in general, the event also takes advantage of the opportunity to remind drivers about the three-minute idling limit law in Washington. 

“It must be working,” commented Michael. “I did not observe one motorcoach driver idling today.”

Honoring drivers, tour operators 

The event honors the motorcoach drivers who play a pivotal role in the success of group tourism in the capital, significantly contributing to the local economy. It also underscores the importance of group tour operators and bus companies in making Washington one of the premier group tour destinations in the U.S. 

DC Loves Buses
UMA’s Charlotte Simmons hands out bags at DC Loves Buses.

“Despite challenges such as a national driver shortage, motorcoach drivers are dedicated to facilitating group travel throughout Washington, D.C., which is so important to what we do as an economic development organization focused on growing visitation,” said Elliott L. Ferguson II, President and CEO of Destination DC, the official destination marketing organization for the District. 

“Drivers are the unsung heroes who significantly contribute to our reputation as a top destination for group tours. Today, we express our gratitude for their invaluable service.”

Destination DC and its partners, including 18 co-ops and members such as Carmine’s, DCAcar, the Embassy Suites by Hilton, the AC Hotel Washington DC Capitol Hill Navy Yard, Old Town Trolley Tours, the Washington Hilton, and Founders Table Restaurant Group, were stationed at key locations including Union Station Parking Garage and various motorcoach drop-off points around the National Mall and L’Enfant Plaza. In addition to the distribution of the lunches donated by Carmine’s and the gift bags, drivers adhering to anti-idling laws were eligible for a prize drawing sponsored by District Department of Transportation.

Last year, 150 lunches and gift bags were distributed, and this year’s increase underscores the growing recognition and appreciation of drivers and their contributions to the tourism sector.

Group travel is a vital component of tourism in Washington. Destination DC facilitates the sector by offering itineraries, activities and resources for planning group and student trips. 

Visits to Washington have been on an upward trajectory since the pandemic, and group travel contributes significantly. Roughly 7% of the nearly 22 million visitors to DC in 2022 had ties to education. 

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