Officials in Washington, D.C., were eagerly anticipating rolling out the red carpet for the more than 16,000 delegates of the American College of Rheumatology’s Annual Scientific Meeting, being held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center this week. According to Destination DC, the city’s official tourism and organization, it’s the biggest D.C.–based conference of 2012, taking up 50,336 room nights at 50 hotels over the duration of the five-day citywide convention.
As Destination DC’s President and CEO Elliott L. Ferguson points out, the conference also will drop $15.7 million into the local economy. This is at least in part due to the fact that more than half the ACR convention attendees come from outside U.S. borders, and international travelers tend to stay longer and spend more than domestic visitors. While hotels will reap their share of that $15.7 million, ACR also has events scheduled at popular attractions such as the Newseum and National Portrait Gallery, and attendees will be dining and partaking of the other area attractions outside of convention time as well.
One interesting perk of being an ACR attendee is that everyone with an official ACR badge is eligible to take part in Destination DC’s “Show Your Badge” program. All attendees have to do is flash their badge at any of the nearly 50 participating “Show Your Badge” businesses to receive special deals and discounts, including prix fixe meals at fine restaurants and buy-one, get-one-free admission to The Presidents Gallery at Madame Tussauds Washington D.C.
But it’s not all about dining and museums: The ACR’s Annual Scientific Meeting promotes research in rheumatology and provides a forum for the exchange of ideas about research, education, patient care, and socioeconomic issues. Jim O’Dell, MD, rheumatologist and president of the American College of Rheumatology, says the research unveiled at the meeting “will impact how we diagnose and treat arthritis and other rheumatic diseases—which affect nearly 50 million Americans—now and in the future. This year’s meeting has the potential to be one of our biggest to date, and we look forward to welcoming thousands from around the world to Washington, D.C., and the ACR Annual Meeting.”