Study to Determine Economic Value of Nightlife Districts in DC, MD, VA

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A groundbreaking economic assessment of sociability and nightlife in the Washington Metropolitan Area is being conducted by the Responsible Hospitality Institute. Nightlife industry employment, tax revenues, and the direct contributions to the local economy will be assessed for three nightlife districts’ bars, clubs, and restaurants. Placing a dollar amount to this vital, yet undervalued industry will help the general public and elected officials recognize why they need to support the continued viability of dining and entertainment venues as well as properly allocate city resources.

Nightlife makes a city a fun place to live, work, play and visit

Sociability as an Economic Engine

Nightlife is a vital sector of cities’ local economy by creating jobs, generating tax revenues, attracting tourists and drawing conventions.

Every Thursday through Saturday night, thousands of adults young in age and in spirit flock to bars, clubs, music venues, and restaurants across the nation; an entire economy of nighttime services, businesses and organizations operate to provide safe and vibrant places to socialize in the evening. Yet just how much of an economic impact is generated by this industry remains unknown.

Three districts within the Washington Metropolitan Area have been selected as the pilot sites for a study of the economic impact of the nighttime economy. The launch of this study by the Responsible Hospitality Institute (RHI) marks the first North American initiative to standardize a methodology for collecting and organizing data related to nightlife. The DC study will also be discussed in an RHI Sociable City Webinar on August 9, 2011 showcasing other nighttime economy studies in the US, UK and Canada.

“Nightlife makes a city a fun place to live, work, play and visit." states Gary Zizka, Vice President, Public Policy, Diageo. "We helped underwrite this survey to collect tangible, concrete data as documentation for why the general public and elected officials should continue to support the continued viability of dining and entertainment businesses,”

Lynne Breaux, President, Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, adds, “Nightlife is a vital sector of cities’ local economy by creating jobs, generating tax revenues, attracting tourists and drawing conventions.”

“As a regulator, it’s important that we understand the size, scope and value of this industry,” states Kathie Durbin, Division Chief, Licensure, Regulation and Education, Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control. “Without this information,” she continues, “it’s difficult to ensure equitable distribution of public services such as waste management and transportation or ensuring a safe community.”

Independent small businesses are often apprehensive about disclosing sales and cost data for fear of competitors using the information against them. This assessment is designed to provide confidentiality and prevent access to individual businesses’ economic data. The study will seek data to be collectively aggregated and will be utilized for the purpose of showcasing the economic activity associated with the three dining and nightlife districts in the Washington Metropolitan area.

Partners and underwriters of the pilot study include: Temple University School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, Diageo North America, the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control, The Eisen Group , Avery Consulting and AECOM.

Additional support for RHI is provided by the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States and the National Beer Wholesalers Association.

The Responsible Hospitality Institute (RHI) is a California based 501(c)3 non-profit organization established in 1983. RHI provides technical assistance that builds local capacity, incubates and shares cutting-edge information and proven strategies, and links a broad-based network of professionals who plan, manage and police dining and entertainment districts. More information is available at or 831.469.3396.


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