The Artisans Studio Tour Association received $10,000 from the Virginia Tourism Corporation Marketing Leverage Program grant fund. In total VTC awarded more than $796,000 for 45 tourism marketing projects across the state to help increase visitation and revenue for Virginia’s localities through tourism.
The grants are designed to help local and regional tourism entities attract more visitors by leveraging local marketing dollars, and will ultimately impact at least 173 other statewide tourism entities. The local organizations match the state grant funds by a minimum of 2:1 in order to support marketing projects. This funding cycle, the local partners will match the VTC grant dollars with more than $2.5 million, providing more than $3.3 million in new marketing to increase visitation to Virginia.
The Artisans Studio Tour Association received a $10,000 grant for its 21st Annual Artisans Studio Tour. They partnered with Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the counties of Nelson, Greene, and Albemarle to supply $10,000 in matching funds for this year’s Tour. Thirty-five distinguished artisans are part of this year’s Tour, a juried event, with 17 studios open to visitors and collectors, providing a mutually beneficial opportunity to interact directly, enjoy demonstrations, and sample quality refreshments sourced from local providers.
Scheduled for Nov. 7-8, the Tour is a significant revenue source for the participating artisans, both in terms of immediate sales and increased customer base for repeat or future sales. Tour visitors come from across Virginia and neighboring states, often spending the weekend to be sure to make time to visit all the studios.
“Artisan enterprises provide visitors with an authentic experience that gives them direct connectivity to community,” said Kurt Burkhart, executive director of the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We are extremely gratified that through this grant program administered by the Virginia Tourism Corporation, there will now be additional funding to promote the 21st annual Artisans Studio Tour to prospective out-of-area visitors.”
The VTC Marketing Leverage Program is designed to stimulate new tourism marketing through partnerships by leveraging limited marketing dollars, resulting in increased visitor spending. A minimum of three entities must partner financially to apply and may consist of Virginia towns, cities, 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.
“These marketing leverage grants provide businesses with the tools and funding they need to thrive and succeed in an overly-competitive market,” said Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe. “Investing in these tourism businesses positively contributes to the New Virginia Economy, and helps to make the Commonwealth the best place to live, work, and raise a family.”
“The grants support Virginia businesses, and help to foster an environment where businesses can succeed,” said Maurice Jones, Secretary of Commerce and Trade. “These funds allow businesses to maximize partnership dollars for powerful tourism marketing programs, helping to not only make Virginia a competitive player, but also attract businesses to the Commonwealth in the future.”
Tourism is an instant revenue generator for Virginia. In 2014, tourism generated $22.4 billion in revenue, supported nearly 217,000 jobs and provided $1.5 billion in state and local taxes. 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.
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