All Virginia localities saw increased tourism revenue while Virginia reached $26,000,000,000.

Data released by the United States Travel Association (USTA) reveals that all regions in Virginia posted an increase in tourism revenue last year.

According to the US Travel Association, tourism in Virginia generated $26 billion in travel spending. Tourism also supported 235,000 work opportunities for Virginia communities and contributed $1.8 billion in state and local taxes. The increase is largely attributed to Virginia’s tourism promotion and development efforts all around the state, including: new hotels, restaurants, agritourism, craft breweries, wineries, distilleries, cideries, sports, outdoor recreation, festivals and events, music venues, wedding venues, meeting and convention venues, attractions and so much more. Virginia’s changing tourism industry makes the Commonwealth a destination for authentic travel experiences and vibrant communities.

Tourism is at a record level in Virginia, and visitor spending has continued to grow year after year. With continued increase in mobility, more sophisticated technology, and changing demographics, travel demand is at an all-time high. Travelers are seeking unique experiences in their leisure time, and view travel as an important factor for their quality of life.

Tourism was again a critical contributor to the local economy in 2018. Tourism revenue for Franklin Countyreached $116,691,785 - a 7.1 percent increase over 2017. This exceeded the 4.4% state average for the same period. The region surrounding Roanoke averaged 4.8%.

Local tourism-supported jobs hit 1,319 - a 3% increase over 2017, while local tourism-related taxes totaled$3,363,926 – a 5.0% increase over 2017. All data was received by the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) from the US Travel Association and is based on domestic visitor spending (travelers from within the United States) from trips taken 50 miles or more away from home.

“Virginia’s tourism industry had a banner year in 2018, hitting new records and making important impacts on our communities across the Commonwealth,” said Rita McClenny, president and CEO of Virginia Tourism Corporation. “As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Virginia is for Lovers and the tourism industry’s continued growth this year, we also celebrate the people who impact and influence our communities with their vision, passion, and love for the tourism industry. Our industry is made up of creative, hard-working, and dedicated professionals, and they work every day to make our communities more vibrant and dynamic. They help to make Virginia the best place to live, work, and visit, and are our most powerful ambassadors for Virginia is for Lovers.”

“For nearly two decades, Franklin County’s tourism sector has maintained its steady growth to reach yet another record year for the county’s tourism economy. Tourism is big business in Franklin County with a track record to prove it,” noted David Rotenizer, director of tourism. “I am beyond ecstatic by the fact Franklin County tied for fourth place statewide in year over year growth with a 7.1% increase topped only by Prince Edward County (12.7%), Rappahannock County (7.8%) and King Gorge County (7.5%).”

He added, “The county has a range of tourism assets helping to mold a critical mass for a dynamic and thriving tourism product. Franklin County is becoming an ever larger tourism destination, but our state and regional partners all help to make the world go around.”

“There are a number of drivers for the increased tourism impact including an explosion of activities at the Crazy Horse Marina, including national level fishing tournaments and other activities. The Harvester Performance Center continues to draw a national – and now international audience. In recent years, both the Blue Ridge Parkway and Booker T. Washington National Monument have reached record attendance levels. The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail and the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival continue to capture the attention of the international media. As for marketing, the county, state and regional organizations continue to spread the word that Franklin County is a great place to live, work and play.”

“Through our cooperation with state and local tourism, combined with our use of social media and thinking outside the box, we have seen a large increase in our business in our seven years in Franklin County,” commented Chris Bechtler, director of Marine Operations at Crazy Horse Marina at Smith Mountain Lake. “We find that working with other businesses with common interests has been advantageous, like the rising tide raising all boats – so does a thriving local economy. Planning events using acts from outside the area in addition to our local talent has given us reach far and wide.”

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