The state of Virginia is outpacing local cities when it comes to visitor spending in 2022. New data from Tourism Economics saw visitor spending in the state increase by 20.3 percent – while Waynesboro saw 9.1 percent growth and Harrisonburg saw an 11 percent increase.
While visitor spending is up in both cities, the numbers suggest that other areas of the state are seeing more growth than the Shenandoah Valley.
Visitor spending for Waynesboro reached $73 million in 2022, a 9.1 percent increase over 2021. The tourism industry provides annual city tax revenue of $3.5 million and supports 803 jobs.
“The tourism sector is a vital driver for economic growth, especially here in the Shenandoah Valley and Waynesboro,” said Stephanie Duffy, project manager for Economic Development & Tourism for the City of Waynesboro. “As travelers visit our beautiful area, they are spending money on lodging, in restaurants and retail shops and generating tax revenue for the city. We are continually working with partners to create new opportunities for visitors to enjoy the area and patronize our establishments.”
In nearby Harrisonburg, the city saw visitor spending reach $239 million, an 11 percent increase over 2021 and a 15 percent increase from pre-pandemic numbers seen in 2019. The tourism industry provided $12.5 million in local taxes collected and supported 2,629 jobs.
“We utilized grant funds and other funds to increase advertising efforts and promote Harrisonburg in new outlets ranging from Outside Magazine to ads on buses in the D.C. metro area,” Harrisonburg Tourism Manager Jennifer Bell said.
Harrisonburg pushed the area’s natural beauty and outdoor attractions including nearby forests, parks and trails.
“Harrisonburg is the outdoor adventure capital of the Shenandoah Valley,” Bell said.
Virginia as a whole
According to the Virginia Tourism Corporation, tourism in Virginia generated $30.3 billion in visitor spending in 2022, an increase of 20.3 percent from 2021. The 2022 tourism spending also exceeded 2019 levels by 4.4 percent.
The tourism industry in Virginia directly supported 210,721 jobs in 2022, an increase of more than 25,000 jobs relative to 2021, but still down about 30,000 jobs relative to 2019.
With additional marketing dollars through the American Rescue Plan Act funds, Virginia and its localities continued to see growth in visitor spending.
The leading tourism sectors in Virginia are recreation and food and beverage which have exceeded 2019 levels by 10 percent.