Not long ago, National Harbor, MD, was a deserted stretch of land on the eastern bank of the Potomac River. Today, however, the 350-acre parcel is a vibrant community and tourism destination that's home to more than 2,500 residences, 150 retail shops, 30 restaurants, seven hotels encompassing more than 3,000 hotel rooms, and 470,000 square feet of meeting and event space, not to mention attractions like the National Harbor Carousel and the Capital Wheel.
To capitalize on the area's growing tourism assets, three of National Harbor's anchors -- the 2,000-room Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center (pictured); the 85-store Tanger Outlets mall; and the 234-room MGM National Harbor, opening later this year -- have joined forces to establish a new destination marketing organization (DMO), they announced yesterday.
Known as Visit National Harbor, the convention and visitors association will work closely with the Prince George's Conference & Visitors Bureau, Maryland Tourism, Destination D.C., Visit Alexandria, and other local DMOs to market National Harbor and the surrounding region to meeting and convention groups, as well as individuals.
The organization will be led by National Harbor Vice President of Marketing Bruce Gudenberg, who will serve as its executive director.
"With so many amenities and so much to offer, it only made sense that National Harbor would form its own convention and visitors association," Gudenberg said. "National Harbor certainly fits all of the qualifications of a major tourism destination, and the growing volume of annual visitors backs this up."
Although Visit National Harbor is supported by National Harbor's retailers, restaurants, and hotels, its main backers are Gaylord, MGM, Tanger, Capital Wheel, and National Harbor developer Peterson Companies.
"Collectively, [Visit National Harbor] will work together to provide an unmatched visitor experience," said Patrick Chaffin, senior vice president of asset management for Ryman Hospitality Properties Inc., which owns the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center. "Our world-class Gaylord National convention center resort coupled with a multitude of dining and shopping options, and now the added benefit of the MGM casino, make National Harbor unlike any destination on the East Coast."
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