Visit Alexandria website gets most views ever as businesses slowly climb back

Alexandria’s tourism bureau just got the most visits ever on its website, but it’s a mixed bag for businesses on the ground.

The Visit Alexandria website got 274,000 visits in May, which is 45% higher than May 2019, CEO Patricia Washington reported in a Zoom meeting last week.

“While there’s a lot of really strong signs of recovery and we’re seeing some significant signs that recovery is underway in earnest, we have to keep in mind that we still have a long way to go,” Washington said. “Our hotels still lag. We’re seeing an uptick in weekend leisure occupancy. RevPAR is still down by more than 60%. That’s just indicative of the fact that all of our sectors have a long way to go to recover and that’s why the American Rescue Plan funding is so important in ensuring that we are accelerating a full and complete recovery for all.”

It’s been more than a month since the City lifted its face mask mandate, and some businesses have thrown out COVID restrictions altogether. Many are short-staffed, like the Potomac Riverboat Waterfront Taxi, which has had to shut down multiple tours and boats in its fleet as a result.

Many businesses reported booming sales on the weekends, which has largely be dependent on the weather.

Unruly customers recently raised a ruckus at Daniel O’Connell’s Irish Restaurant and Bar on lower King Street.

“COVID is definitely over in O’Connell’s,” restaurant President Niamh O’Donovan told Visit Alexandria in a Zoom meeting last week. “Because I will say, we had probably the rudest guests come into the restaurant over the weekend. One of my extremely valued bartenders who’s been with me for over 10 years got screamed at four times just in two hours Sunday morning alone.”

O’Donovan said she had to hold her tongue with two female customers in particular, and said that customers need to be a little more delicate with staff in the hospitality industry.

“That’s just so frustrating for staff who have been working so bloody hard this past year and some, and they’ve been working for less pay, working harder,” she said.

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