Part of it has to do with how different entities dealt with the cut.
Take the Smithsonian. It had to cut $41 million from its budget this year. It was able to hide most of the cuts from the public by reducing staff travel, activities, training, and hours, closing only three small aspects of its many museums in Washington: one portion of the third floor of the Hirshhorn Museum, one room in the Castle that holds some exhibits, and one room in the National Museum of African Art.
"Our visitors wouldn't cancel a trip to Washington, of which Smithsonian is a big part, because a part of one exhibit they never heard of was closed," Smithsonian spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas said. "We did almost everything through administrative cuts that the public wouldn't notice."
Over at the White House, the administration decided to cancel tours because of cuts to the Secret Service — a necessary move, according to officials; a political move, according to critics. But only 3 percent of the 18 million people who visit Washington every year actually go the White House.
Another reason the cuts haven't had as large of an impact has to do with the District itself. "People are still coming here because there's so much to see and other places for them to spend money," said Barbara Lang, president and CEO of the District of Columbia Chamber of Commerce. She operates a tourist center near Chinatown, where she said she directs people not only to the Mall, but also to sites elsewhere in the District like the U Street and H Street neighborhoods, or specific places like the Spy Museum or Madame Tussaud's.
Over at the D.C. government, officials are attempting to attract businesses and organizations to hold meetings and conferences. The federal government may be the largest employer in the District. But hospitality is second. "We do know that there is an extraordinary effort on the part of the city to book smaller meetings in what would be considered an off-peak time," said Destination DC spokeswoman Kate Gibbs. "This is a season where usually meetings are few and far between."
And, of course, there's the improving — albeit slowly — economy.
Visitors aren't even mentioning sequestration among their concerns for Washington, said Lang. She says the only sequester-related complaints she receives are about long lines at the airports stemming from cuts at the Transportation Security Administration.
However, these officials warn that while the summer tourism season has been strong, people should still be worried about the damaging effects sequestration might have in the long term. If Congress and the White House can't agree on a budget in the fall, the cuts could continue — and the District may not be able to hide their effects from the public much longer.
St. Thomas cautions that a full fiscal year would have required a $65 million cut for Smithsonian. "Obviously, the higher the cut, the more it is for us to not affect anything the public does," she said. "We're not going to start charging admission or anything."