Home Study: Virginia Beach tourism pours $3.7B into local economy in 2022 

Study: Virginia Beach tourism pours $3.7B into local economy in 2022 

Crystal Graham
Virginia beach oceanfront
Virginia beach oceanfront (photo by Crystal Graham)

The Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau’s recent economic impact study found the destination welcomed 13.6 million visitors in 2022.

Visitor expenditures, amounting to $2.4 billion, marked a significant increase of $300 million compared to the previous year and a striking $460 million rise above the spending levels seen in 2019.

This had a far-reaching economic impact, encompassing both indirect and induced effects, resulting in a grand total of $3.7 billion for 2022.

“Virginia Beach’s tourism success in 2022 highlights the enduring appeal of our city and the resilience of our community,” said Nancy Helman, Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau director. “The substantial increase in visitor spending, its impact on jobs and the boost in tax revenue reflect the strength of our local economy.”

This economic ripple sustained 32,704 jobs, equating to 19 percent of all jobs in the city.

In addition, tourism spending contributed $324 million in state and local tax revenues during the same year, offsetting local annual taxes by $1,754 per Virginia Beach household.

Out of the $2.4 billion spent by visitors in Virginia Beach in 2022:

  • Food and beverages took the lead with expenditures exceeding $1.0 billion and constituting 42 percent of the overall visitor spending.
  • Lodging expenses, which encompassed both traditional lodging and short-term rentals, accounted for $661 million and represents 28 percent of the total visitor spending.
  • Transportation within the destination and recreational activities each claimed an 11 percent share of visitor spending.
  • Retail expenditures amounted to $220 million, comprising approximately 9 percent of the total spending.

While day visitors account for nearly six in 10 of the overall market, those who overnight in the coastal city typically stay an average of four nights and have an average household income of $71,100.

Drawn by the beach, museums and shopping, 74 percent of last year’s overnight travelers were repeat visitors and 42 percent also visited within the last 12 months.

Visitor spending surged by 14.5 percent in 2022, marking a second consecutive year of double-digit growth.

“The remarkable findings in this study are a testament to the unwavering dedication of the individuals in our tourism industry who consistently serve as the driving force behind the choice of countless visitors to embrace our cherished destination,” said Helman. “Our commitment remains steadfast as we persist in delivering an exceptional tourism experience, one that will continue to captivate visitors and draw them to Virginia Beach throughout the entire year.”

The study, centered on the expenditures of Virginia Beach tourists in 2022, was undertaken by Tourism Economics, a subsidiary of Oxford Economics, utilizing an array of local and nationwide data resources and survey instruments.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years 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.