Local projects win state tourism grants

The Virginia Tourism Corporation will award matching grant funds in the amount of more than $660,000 to 45 local tourism initiatives as part of VTC’s Marketing Leverage Grant program.

Several local initiatives were among the grants funded in the most recent cycle, including:

– City of Waynesboro Tourism Office, Comprehensive Destination Marketing, Research, Feasibility and Strategic Planning, $12,500

– Greater Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce, Good Times, Tastes & Traditions Fall Celebration, $5,000

– Shenandoah Valley Art Center Inc., River City Fall Foliage Weekend, $5,000

– Waynesboro Downtown Development Inc., Virginia Chili Blues n’ Brews Festival, $5,000

– Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum, Stay and Play program, $4,000

– Waynesboro Parks & Recreation, Park to Park Half marathon promotion, $3,000

The grants help local and regional tourism entities attract more visitors by leveraging local marketing dollars. The local organizations match the state grant funds by a minimum of 3:1 to create marketing projects such as Web sites, social media, and advertisements.

“Tourism plays such a vital role in Virginia’s economy,” said Gov. Bob McDonnell. “These grants help bring more visitors to Virginia, and in doing so they help create and sustain jobs while generating revenue for businesses and tax income for the localities and the Commonwealth.”

Tourism in Virginia generated $19 billion in revenue in 2010, provided $1.3 billion in state and local taxes and supported more than 200,000 jobs. Dollars invested in tourism are proven to provide a 5:1 return in tax revenue for Virginia, and the grant awards and matching funds provide a stimulus to localities seeking to increase tourism visitation and revenue.

The objective of VTC’s Marketing Leverage Program is to increase visitor spending by leveraging limited marketing dollars, stimulate new tourism marketing through partnerships and extend the “Virginia is for Lovers” brand.  To apply for a grant a minimum of three entities must partner financially.  Partners may consist of Virginia cities, towns, counties, convention and visitors bureaus, chambers of commerce, other local or regional destination marketing organizations, private businesses, museums, attractions, cultural events, and other not-for-profit entities.  In total, VTC awards approximately $1 million annually – matched and leveraged on average three to one by partner dollars – to more than 80 communities across the Commonwealth.

“The power of partnerships is vital in maximizing Virginia’s effectiveness in attracting visitors,” said Rita McClenny, interim president and CEO of the Virginia Tourism Corporation. “When Virginians work together to create exceptional tourism projects such as these our grants become an investment certain to pay dividends for the Commonwealth.”

Augusta Health Kris McMackin CPA
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Augusta Free Press