“Virginia’s tourism industry is a critical component of the new Virginia economy, providing jobs for our citizens and funneling millions of dollars back into our communities,” said Governor McAuliffe. “My team and I have traveled across the globe to promote Virginia as a premier destination, showcasing our beautiful scenery, rich history, and incredible culinary offerings, in addition to our outstanding oysters, wine, craft beer, cider, and distilled spirits. I am proud of the continued growth we’ve seen in this important industry, which helps us spread the message that Virginia is for Lovers.”
Since taking office in January 2014, Governor McAuliffe has been a leading advocate for the Virginia tourism industry. The Governor, accompanied by members of his Cabinet and representatives from the Virginia Tourism Corporation, Virginia Economic Development Partnership, and Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, has completed 35 trade and marketing missions in the United States and around the globe to promote Virginia as a premier travel destination for domestic and international visitors, as well as a prime site to relocate or start-up businesses in the United States.
Governor McAuliffe has made a total of 115 announcements relating to new tourism products, events, and developments, as well as announcements relating to the filming of episodic television shows and motion picture projects in the Commonwealth. This robust support of the tourism and film industries led to record-breaking visitor spending each year of the McAuliffe administration. The craft beverage industry has also surged under his leadership – Virginia now boasts more than 250 craft breweries, more than 280 wineries, 57 distilleries, and more than 20 cideries.
“As the fifth-largest private employer in Virginia, the travel industry is an important sector of the Virginia economy, contributing to the quality of life for our residents and making Virginia the best place to live, work, and raise a family,” said Todd Haymore, Secretary of Commerce and Trade. “That’s why the McAuliffe administration, working in close partnership with the private sector, the General Assembly, and many others, has been dedicated to growing the tourism industry by encouraging more economic development and new product, which help Virginia compete to be the best place in the country and the world to visit.”
Additionally, Governor McAuliffe has awarded more than $3.3 million in matching tourism grants across the Commonwealth, helping localities leverage limited marketing dollars and maximize their ability to compete in an overly saturated, overly competitive market. Due to Governor McAuliffe and his administration’s support of tourism development and marketing, every region in Virginia has reported economic growth annually during his tenure.
In 2016, domestic travelers spent nearly $65 million per day across the Commonwealth. Employees in Virginia’s travel industry earned $5.6 billion in payroll income, representing a 5.4 percent increase over 2015. The largest increase in travel expenditures was in the food and lodging sectors, with a $630 million increase compared to 2015. In recently released data, all regions across the Commonwealth saw tourism growth in 2016.
“Governor McAuliffe’s leadership has encouraged unparalleled growth for Virginia, helping to advance every sector of the tourism economy,” said Rita McClenny, President and CEO of Virginia Tourism Corporation. “The Governor’s passion and enthusiasm for our great Commonwealth is infectious, and he has been an outstanding ambassador by promoting the Virginia is for Lovers message across the globe. We are grateful for the Governor’s dedication, support, and leadership, as he has piloted us year after year towards record-breaking visitor spending, job creation, and economic growth.”
Governor McAuliffe has also demonstrated a commitment to Virginia’s growing agritourism industry. In April, he announced the economic impact of the agritourism sector in Virginia, a growing division of the tourism industry. The study, conducted by the Virginia Tech Pamplin College of Business, showed that Virginia’s agritourism industry accounts for $2.2 billion in economic activity. The report also showed that the economic activity attributed to the Commonwealth’s 1,400 agritourism businesses support 22,000 jobs, contribute $840 million in income, and inject $135 million in state and local taxes into Virginia’s economy. The study was the first statewide benchmark report to measure the economic and fiscal impacts of Virginia’s agritourism industry.
Tourism is an instant revenue generator for the Commonwealth, representing almost $23.7 billion in revenue in 2016, a 10.2 percent increase from 2013 when the tourism industry generated approximately $21.5 billion in revenue. Today, visitor spending in Virginia supports 230,000 jobs with 16,000 of those added during Governor McAuliffe’s tenure, representing a 7.6 percent increase. Virginia’s tourism industry also provides $1.7 billion in state and local taxes, with a compound annual growth rate of 5.6 percent. Virginia welcomed more than 45 million visitors from across the United States last year, a record high for domestic travel to the Commonwealth.
The Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) is the state agency responsible for marketing Virginia as a premier travel destination and promoting the 49-year-old “Virginia is for Lovers” brand, the longest-running state tourism slogan in the country. VTC operates as a fully integrated marketing unit charged with increasing brand awareness through owned, earned, and paid media opportunities, as well as social media strategies.
VTC receives its annual economic impact data from the U.S. Travel Association. The information is based on domestic visitor spending (travelers from within the United States) from per-person trips taken 50 miles or more away from home. To view detailed economic impact data by locality, please visit www.vatc.org/research/economicimpact.
Plan your next vacation in Virginia. Visit www.virginia.org discover why Virginia is for Lovers.