Thu, January 15, 2009
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Millions expected in Washington D.C.

2009-01-15 09:01:04 GMT2009-01-15 17:01:04 (Beijing Time)  Reuters

With millions expected in Washington D.C. for the Obama inauguration, accommodations fill up fast.

Hotels and other accommodations have been filling up fast since November's historic election. With just days to go before the inauguration, visitors who haven't yet booked a room may have to travel far and wide to find an affordable vacancy.


As President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration draws near, more than two million people are expected to cram into Washington, filling nearly every hotel room in the area.

There are plenty of opportunities for big spenders. At the Ritz Carlton Hotel, a guest handed over 50,000 dollars for a special inauguration package which includes a chauffeur, tickets to the parade and an official inaugural ball.

Ritz Carlton Manager Elizabeth Mullins:

"We went into the election about 50 percent occupied and the phones just blew up right after the election results came in."

But sky-high prices and limited vacancies have forced many want-to-be inaugural witnesses to get creative with where they will stay.

Many Washington residents see this as a potential windfall, opening up their homes to guests for a fee.

Rental broker, Caroline Allison says traffic on her brokerage Viscape has been surging since the election. Prices of properties have ranged from 46 dollars to 5-thousand depending on their size, location and the amenities offered.

Rental broker Caroline Allison

"A lot of people are looking at this as a way to bring in additional income and I will say that for people who are getting deals done in this, its about getting their properties priced right."

To find rooms and cut costs, many visitors are staying at hotels up to 400 miles from Washington.

Nestled in the Shenandoah Valley, about 66 miles west of Washington is bucolic Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. The town, population 307, boasts a prominent place in American civil war history.

Dale Brechlin, General Manager at Harpers Ferry KOA Campground, said he typically has about 20 customers a week in January. But bookings are up tenfold for the inauguration.

The bulk of the camp's cabins cost between 65 and 85 dollars a night. But these accommodations don't have indoor plumbing.

"I mean your sleeping in a sleeping bag isn't exactly a comforter in your king size bed but we're here to advise them and that's what my staff does."

No matter where visitors stay, getting to the inaugural site will be an issue. City trains and buses are expected to be filled to capacity.

Steven Taubenkibel of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority:

"We're anticipating record breaking ridership throughout the entire day, long lines, long crowds at our fare vending machines stations and our trains and the same thing with our buses all day long."

City authorities also expect hundreds of charter buses -- as people from around the nation make their way to Washington, hoping for a glimpse of history.

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