(Washington, DC) – Today, at Destination DC’s Travel Rally, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that the District has entered into an agreement with the Therme Group to bring a new health and wellness destination to Washington, DC. Therme, which already operates four sites in Germany and Romania, is expanding to the United States and has identified the DC-Maryland-Virginia region for a facility.
“When we create destinations that not only bring more visitors to our city, but also create new experiences, jobs, and opportunities for our residents – that is a win-win,” said Mayor Bowser. “We know that people are the key to our comeback, so we love that more visitors are coming back to DC. More visitors means more people supporting our local businesses, more jobs for our residents, and more activity in our city. Our comeback is underway – let’s keep pushing.”
Guided by the principle of wellbeing for all, Therme develops, designs, and operates large-scale wellbeing oases that combine thermal bathing, sauna treatments, and family-friendly water-based features. The agreement with the District is a one-year exclusive rights agreement, meaning Therme will only explore sites in the District and not seek to compete the District against surrounding jurisdictions. During that year, the District will help identify potential locations for the facility in DC. A DC location is expected to bring 7,200 construction jobs over a two-year period, 700 to 800 permanent operations jobs upon facility stabilization, and an estimated $1.1 billion in nominal tax revenue flow over 25 years.
“We are thrilled to work together and take the first step to bring Therme’s revolutionary wellbeing concept to the U.S.,” said Omar Toro-Vaca, Chief Development Officer, Therme Group US. “The cultural wealth and diversity of the nation’s capital makes it the perfect place to introduce the United States to our holistic model of urban recreation and rejuvenation. We look forward to collaborating with the community and District leaders to develop a civic asset that connects Washingtonians and visitors alike with a new approach to health, nature, and community.”
Destination DC’s Travel Rally is held each year during the U.S. Travel Association’s National Travel and Tourism week. During this year’s Travel Rally, which took place in Franklin Park, Destination DC announced that in 2022 domestic tourism rebounded to 91% of pre-pandemic levels, with 20.7 million domestic visitors who spent $8.1 billion and helped generate approximately 84,000 jobs. As DC continues to make a comeback, the 2022 tourism numbers are up 10% over 2021.
“As an economic development organization, we have a reason to celebrate the increase in domestic visitation, near pre-pandemic levels of visitor spending, and record jobs for Washington, DC last year,” said Elliott Ferguson, President and CEO of Destination DC. “But it’s important to grow domestic market share and be aggressive as DC is still behind when it comes to international and business travel. Additional funding through Tourism Recovery District legislation allows us to compete with other top-tier destinations with larger budgets. We appreciate our city’s leaders who recognize the importance of investing in tourism and marketing our destination.”
During the Travel Rally, which emphasizes the critical role DC’s hospital industry plays in DC’s economy, the Mayor also announced that the Fiscal Year 2023 Hospitality Technical Assistance and Workforce Development Program will soon be accepting applications. The new grant program will provide funds to one or more nonprofit organizations to support sales and marketing technical assistance for small businesses within the hospitality sector that are struggling to meet their pre-pandemic revenues and patronage.
The program will also fund workforce development trainings focused on increasing the number of skilled workers within the hospitality sector. DMPED will award one or two grants totaling just over $1.6 million to qualifying nonprofit organizations. The Notice of Funding Availability (NFA) will open this Friday, May 12, and the Request for Applications (RFA) will open on May 26. The NFA and RFA will both be available at obviouslydc.com on the respective dates.
Additionally, the $7.5 million DC Family Fun Destinations Program is currently open for grant applications and will close on June 2. The program supports the creation or enhancement of family-friendly attractions, with a focus on the downtown area. To learn more or apply for the Family Fun Destinations Program grant, visit obviouslydc.com.
The Mayor emphasized the importance of programs that are funded in her Fiscal Year 2024 Budget proposal that support local businesses and DC’s comeback, including:
- Additional $3 million for the Great Streets and Small Business Fund, for a total of $10 million.
- Additional $3 million for the Food Access Fund, a critical tool for expanding restaurants and other food access points in Wards 7 and 8, for a total of $24 million for small food businesses.
- Additional $1.5 million for the Festival Fund, also known as the Special Event Relief Fund, which helps to offset costs for community organizations hosting events in DC.
The Mayor’s investments support DC’s Comeback Plan, which sets six goals to achieve over the next five years, including increasing minority-owned employer businesses to 33% of all employer businesses, adding 15,000 residents downtown, and creating 35,000 new jobs in high-demand sectors. The plan also outlines a three-pronged approach to the transformation and revitalization of downtown: fill the space, change the space, and bring the people.
To learn more about resources and funding to support DC small businesses, visit obviouslydc.com.