news 2021 was a significant year of recovery for waynesboro tourism
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Analysis: 2021 was a significant year of recovery for Waynesboro tourism

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According to an economic impact analysis produced by the Virginia Tourism Corporation, in partnership with Tourism Economics, direct visitor spending for the City of Waynesboro reached $66.9 million in 2021.

This represents a 41.6 percent increase over 2020 and an impressive 10.4 percent increase over 2019, making 2021 a significant year of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic for the city.

The local tourism industry supported 731 jobs, while state and local tourism-related tax revenue totaled $5.3 million.

The COVID-19 pandemic imposed a devastating strain on Virginia’s hotels, restaurants, attractions and communities. The pandemic caused decreased revenue and a reduced workforce, and some businesses were forced to close completely.

The Commonwealth continues to grapple with the negative effects, including workforce challenges in travel and tourism businesses.

Although visitor spending in Waynesboro has fully recovered and outpaced 2019 levels, employment in the hospitality industry has not recovered, and still lags more than 9 percent when comparing 2021 to 2019.

As Americans and international travelers become increasingly eager to travel and explore, Waynesboro intends to leverage its budding tourism industry to support local economic recovery and growth, according to a news release.

“Our beautiful setting, great location, and fantastic amenities made Waynesboro and the entire Shenandoah Valley a haven for travelers from more urban areas in the midst of the pandemic,” said Jennifer Kiser, tourism and marketing manager for the City of Waynesboro. “The opening of new dining establishments, shops, and recreational opportunities throughout the pandemic shows resilience in our community and positive momentum in our local tourism industry.”

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Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.