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Saturday, 13 January, 2001, 17:45 GMT
Hoteliers cash in on Bush's big day
Souvenir inauguration Tshirts
Shops are packed with inauguration souvenirs
By Jonny Dymond in Washington

In Washington DC the secret service has been practising anti-terrorist routines, the hotels are filling up and the city's hairdressers and dressmakers have been working at full tilt.

George W Bush is coming to town, to take office as the 43rd President of the United States. All across the city, scaffolding is beginning to obscure the monuments of the US capital.


The restaurateurs, the limo services, the hotels are rubbing their hands with glee

Chuck Conconi
Washingtonian magazine
After weeks of indecision over which man was to take the post, the inauguration arrangements have proceeded at breakneck speed.

Some things will be different this time. There will be fewer Hollywood stars - most of them are Democrats - and more Country and Western singers.

But for businesses, the inauguration is as much an opportunity as a celebration.

Money spinner

"The restaurateurs, the limo services, the hotels are rubbing their hands with glee because this is where they make their money for the whole year," says Chuck Conconi from the Washingtonian magazine.

President-elect George W Bush
George W Bush is preparing to become the 43rd president
"Everyone wants to be here, this is where the action is. Republicans spend a lot of money and the waiters say they tip better than Democrats, so they like them more," he adds.

The first to benefit are the hoteliers. You can't get a hotel for just one night over the weekend of inauguration, you need to book for three, probably four.

Even so, one hotel has taken the whole thing to extremes.

The St Regis is offering a package which includes two presidential suite bedrooms, exclusive gifts, drinks and meals at the best restaurants as well as monogrammed bathrobes.

The price? $100,000 - but before you reached chequebook, the suite has been taken.

There are few services that you can't buy in America, but just in case you were having problems on your way to one of the inaugural balls, there's a department store that will help.

Personal service

For those in trouble with their tuxedo, help is at hand from the Nordstrom department store says Wayne Lavoie from the formal menswear department.

"Many men do not wear bow ties very often, maybe once a year, twice a year at the most. When it comes to tying it five minutes before the ball, they panic and can't get it done properly," he says.

As a remedy to this, explains Mr Lavoie, the store will have a team of bow tiers operating outside the entrance to the ballroom.

"You won't even have to go into the store," he adds.

Most of the tickets for the inauguration have already gone; but most Americans who are interested will watch it on television - which is perhaps not too surprising.

Once hotels transport clothing and restaurants are added up, the cost of attending is reckoned by most observers to be $5,000 a head.

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