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Virginia tourism recovers from COVID with 4.4 percent spending increase over 2019

Virginia tourismVisitor spending in the Commonwealth reached 30.3 billion in 2022, exceeding pre-pandemic levels by 4.4 percent.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin and Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) announced the milestone today, which is a 20.3 percent increase from 2021.

“Travel and tourism play an essential role in Virginia’s economy,” Youngkin said. “Reviving our tourism industry was a crucial goal to our economic recovery, and our focused efforts on employment and business growth has proven to be successful for the Commonwealth.”

Tourism in Virginia supported 210,721 jobs, an increase of more than 25,000 jobs from 2021, but still down approximately 30,000 from 2019.

In Virginia, tourists spent $83 million per day, up from $69 million per day in 2021, and directly drove nearly $2.2 billion in state and local tax revenues, an increase of 19.1 percent from $1.8 billion in 2021. Up from 38.3 million overnight visitors in 2020, overnight visitation increased by 10 percent to 42.2 million.

“We are thrilled to see visitor spending in Virginia return to pre-pandemic numbers,” Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick said. “The rate of spending recovery and growth proves how resilient Virginia’s tourism industry is. We look forward to seeing increased travel and a continued recovery in 2023.”

Recreation and food & beverage are the leading tourism sectors for the Commonwealth, which have exceeded 2019 levels by 10 percent. A slower rebound has been seen with transportation, especially air travel, but grew the fastest in 2022.

Virginia and its localities continued to see growth in visitor spending with additional marketing funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. Recovery grant funds were specifically used to advertise in new markets and reached nearly 15 million more households in 2022 compared to 2021.

“By reaching more travelers in new markets, Virginia continues to raise awareness and consideration as a premier travel destination,” Virginia Tourism Corp. President and CEO Rita McClenny said. “This awareness results in increased bookings and arrivals, which, in turn, translates to increased visitor spending across the state.”

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.