Ten communities, including Waynesboro, have plans to launch new tourism programs to boost outdoor recreation and have been awarded up to $20,000 each from the Virginia Tourism Corporation.
The DRIVE Outdoor grant program provides funding to target outdoor product development and entrepreneurial expansion throughout the state.
Communities receiving funding include:
- Charlottesville/Albemarle County
- Floyd County
- Giles County
- Lexington/Rockbridge County
- Nelson County
- Smithfield/Isle of Wight County
- Virginia’s Blue Ridge
Outdoor recreation in Waynesboro
Waynesboro recently expanded their Greenway to nearly two miles which allows for runners, walkers and cyclists to enjoy the scenery along the South River.
Sunset Park is also under way in the River City which will increase recreational space for the city. Hiking and biking trails are planned for the site but additional funding is needed before this phase of the project is completed.
Earlier this month, Waynesboro leaders showed support for shutting down the city’s brick-and-mortar tourist information center on Afton Mountain. While staff recommended a new center in the East Main corridor, city councilors did not show support for an information center. Greg Hitchin, Director of Economic Development and Tourism in Waynesboro, said without a dedicated center, the city would lose their certification with the Virginia Tourism Corporation.
Outdoor recreation in Virginia
In 2021, outdoor recreation contributed $9.4 billion to the Commonwealth’s economy and supported 107,000 jobs and $4.8 billion in wages and salaries in Virginia, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
“Virginia is known for its natural beauty. Growing our outdoor economy will spur job creation and private investment, further enhance Virginia as an outdoor destination, and provide endless opportunities for outdoor-focused tourism partnerships,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick. “The opportunities created from this program will help further position Virginia as the top state on the East Coast for outdoor recreation and a natural fit for outdoor businesses.”
Funds will be used for development projects that will have an immediate impact on their outdoor recreation offerings. Projects include purchasing new outdoor recreation equipment for more rentals and outfitting opportunities, events, or studies for outdoor recreation development and expansion.
Participating communities utilized current travel data, trends and research to develop their plans along with holding workshops to gather input from the public and stakeholders on how the plans could attract new travelers and boost economic activity.
DRIVE Outdoor builds on the DRIVE 2.0 Statewide Strategic Plan to enhance outdoor recreational development, assets and entrepreneurial opportunities within Virginia.
Following their participation in the program, communities received the foundation for a competitive outdoor product development plan, including specific action steps, success factors, timelines, priorities and identified partners to help with project success.
“These new outdoor recreation projects will only add to the tourism opportunities across the Commonwealth, a destination already celebrated for its iconic outdoor assets,” said Rita McClenny, President and CEO of Virginia Tourism Corporation. “Virginia offers unparalleled outdoor experiences enjoyed by millions of people every year and the projects these communities develop will only further solidify our reputation as a premier destination for outdoor lovers.”
The next round of DRIVE Outdoor will open this summer.
To explore more of Virginia’s numerous outdoor offerings, visit virginia.org/outdoors.
Waynesboro supports closing tourism information center, no plans to explore new location
Sunset Park under construction with $2.5 million price tag, trails on hold
Waynesboro: South River Greenway extension to North Park complete