Virginia Tourism Corporation announces development of new statewide strategic plan

Virginia Tourism CorporationVirginia Tourism Corporation is working to develop a long-term strategic plan to help increase tourism visitation and spending across the Commonwealth.

The new strategic plan, coined DRIVE 2.0, will build on the existing findings and conclusions from a 2013 Statewide Tourism Plan and will have a strong focus on growing Virginia’s tourism economy. The previous Statewide Tourism Plan, also called DRIVE Tourism, highlighted key areas driving the future of tourism from the tourism industry perspective, with a strong focus on three core components: authenticity, connectivity, and visitor experience. The new strategic plan will have a strong focus on growing Virginia’s tourism economy as we look to the future by answering two key questions:

  • What should the tourism industry be promoting?
  • What should the tourism industry be building?

This plan will be an opportunity for VTC to learn from Virginia’s tourism industry. Research indicates that when tourism development increases, so does the visitor experience, economic impact to communities, and Virginia’s marketing competitiveness. DRIVE 2.0 will help Virginia’s tourism industry compete.

“Tourism is an instant revenue generator in the Commonwealth,” said Brian Ball, Secretary of Commerce and Trade. “Last year, visitors to Virginia spent $25 billion, which supported
232,000 jobs and contributed $1.73 billion in state and local tax revenue. The new strategic plan will help Virginia maintain its edge as a competitive tourism destination, while also developing new strategies to move the needle that are specifically developed and tailored for communities across the Commonwealth.”

Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) has selected Richmond-based SIR to develop a long-term strategic plan to help increase tourism visitation and spending across the Commonwealth. SIR will also prepare plans that support initiatives in each of the Commonwealth’s ten tourism regions by identifying regional product and promotional opportunities. SIR was selected through a competitive review process.

“SIR is honored to be a part of VTC and Governor Northam’s initiatives to grow the state’s $25 billion tourism industry,” said John Martin, CEO of SIR. “We are fortunate to be able to draw from our experience working with Virginia Tourism over the years, including conducting more than 50 tourism research studies and the first study of Virginia visitors that inspired the ‘Virginia is for Lovers’ iconic tagline.”

SIR will work in collaboration with VTC leadership-specifically, the Partnership Marketing division-to create strategies for the future of tourism in the state. This strategic planning process will include meeting with stakeholders in every region throughout the state, identifying opportunities and challenges, and assessing competition. Throughout 2019, SIR will be communicating with more than 1,500 industry partners through surveys, interviews and online forums. The findings and recommendations will then focus on what Virginia communities should currently be promoting, and what they should be building.

As the strategic planning process will be executed throughout 2019, it will also coincide with the 50th anniversary of VTC’s iconic tourism slogan, “Virginia is for Lovers,” created in 1969 by Richmond-based advertising agency Martin & Woltz. This will provide a forward-thinking opportunity for Virginia’s tourism industry to look at where it has been, and where it is going.

“‘Virginia is for Lovers’ is one of the most well-recognized and enduring tourism slogans in the world, and is an emblem for all the things visitors love to do while on vacation,” said Rita McClenny, president and CEO of Virginia Tourism Corporation. “As we look to the next fifty years, the new strategic plan will give VTC and Virginia’s tourism industry as a whole the necessary tools to focus and prioritize its development on key lures in a deliberate, consumer-oriented approach. We look forward to presenting a winning strategy for our stakeholders across the Commonwealth.”

“DRIVE Tourism provided communities across the Commonwealth with the opportunity to learn what to promote and what to develop in order to compete. It truly empowered destinations to make a difference,” said Rosa Lee Jude, Director of the Wytheville Convention and Visitors Bureau. “DRIVE 2.0 will build on the successful foundations we have now built, while giving us the tools to harness the power of tourism as a robust economic driver in Virginia. These tools will help us improve our communities, making Virginia a better place to live, work, and visit.”


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