Fewer fanny packs, cameras

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Local,Maryland,Rachel Baye

While Washington residents skip town in August, the number of tourists also declines.

In both 2010 and 2011, the number of hotel rooms booked in the area declined sharply between July and August, according to Destination DC, the District's convention and tourism corporation. In 2010, 9.5 percent fewer hotel rooms were rented in August than in July, while in 2011, 13.1 percent fewer rooms were booked.

The number of visitors to Smithsonian Institution museums also drops each year between July and August, with 2011 seeing a 33.6 percent decline, the Smithsonian's data show. In that period, visitors to the National Zoo dropped 11.3 percent, visitors to the National Air and Space Museum dropped 31.8 percent, visitors to the National Museum of American History dropped 38.5 percent and visitors to the National Museum of Natural History dropped 36.4 percent.

Source: Smithsonian Institution

Smithsonian visitors in 2011
June July August September
National Air and Space Museum 755,117 1,015,699 692,562 377,333
National Museum of American History 575,322 686,225 422,260 234,387
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden 62,127 74,088 56,312 43,616
National Museum of Natural History 826,793 968,218 615,603 325,516
National Zoological Park 227,912 210,569 186,818 124,429
Smithsonian Institution total 3,239,384 3,959,430 2,628,873 1,629,823

Tourism typically drops off in August, said Kate Gibbs, a spokeswoman for Destination DC. It typically peaks around the National Cherry Blossom Festival in the spring and the Fourth of July, as well as during spring break and in October, when many schools take trips to the nation's capital.

But when asked, residents said they still felt like the city was flooded with tourists.

Arlington resident Karen Ott said finding a seat on the Metro in the mornings is tougher this time of year because of the tourists.

"We think they shouldn't be allowed on the Metro," joked Alexandria resident Alan Bernstein. "They should have to wear a tourist badge and only be allowed on at certain times."

rbaye@washingtonexaminer.com

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