As the federal government enters the 11th consecutive day of a partial government shutdown, Washington, D.C., wants Americans to know that the city is open for business -- even if the U.S. government that occupies it is not.
"We want visitors to know that the majority of D.C.'s attractions and experiences remain open during a government shutdown," said Elliott L. Ferguson II, president and CEO of Destination DC, the capital's destination marketing organization, which on Dec. 22 relaunched its "DC Is Open" campaign to let visitors know that the district continues to host business and leisure travelers at this turbulent time. "Politics are beyond our control, but tourism is crucial to D.C.'s local economy, which benefited from a record 22.8 million visitors who spent $7.5 billion in 2017. We're getting the word out that visitors can still take part in special events, great restaurants, theater, arts and culture, sports and nightlife throughout D.C.'s neighborhoods."
Approximately a quarter of the federal government has been shut down since midnight on Dec. 21 due to a stalemate between President Donald Trump and Congressional leaders, who have failed to reach an agreement for funding the government in 2019. At the center of the debate is money for the president's long-promised border wall; while Trump refuses to endorse a budget without it, Congress refuses to endorse a budget with it.
Although the impasse has shuttered numerous government agencies -- including the departments of the treasury, agriculture, homeland security, interior, state, housing and urban development, transportation, commerce and justice -- much of D.C. remains operational, according to Destination DC, which first instituted the "DC is Open" campaign when the U.S. government shut down for 16 days in October 2013.
Among the attractions that are open during the shutdown are: all open-air parks and memorials on the National Mall; the Wharf, a year-old shopping and dining destination on D.C.'s waterfront; the Museum of the Bible; the National Law Enforcement Museum; the National Geographic Museum; the Newseum; the Phillips Collection; Madame Tussauds; the National Building Museum; Artechouse; the Kreeger Museum; the Hillwood Estate, Museum and Garden; the Washington National Cathedral; the Spy Museum; the National Museum of Women in the Arts; the Woodrow Wilson House; the Library of Congress; the U.S. Botanic Garden; the Capitol Visitor Center, and the United States Holocaust Memorial and Museum.
Although they were open last week, the Smithsonian museums and the Smithsonian National Zoo are closed as of Jan. 2. Also closed are the Ford's Theatre National Historic Site, the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, the White House Visitor Center, the National Archives, the National Arboretum, the Kennedy Center, the Old Post Office Pavilion and the National Gallery of Art, among others.
All public transportation and all local government services, including sanitation, schools, parks and ancillary services, are operational.
During the shutdown, Destination DC is providing visitors with real-time updates -- as well as deals and coupons from local businesses -- at washington.org/dcisopen, and on social media using the hashtag #DCisOpen.