RICHMOND – Governor McAuliffe today announced that Virginia’s tourism revenue has grown by $2.2 billion since his taking office in 2014 with a compound annual growth rate of 3.3 percent. Today, visitor spending in Virginia supports 230,000 jobs; 16,000 of those have been added during his tenure, representing a 7.6 percent increase. Today’s tourism industry also provides $1.7 billion in state and local taxes, with a compound annual growth of 5.6 percent. Virginia welcomed more than 45 million visitors from across the United States last year.
Since taking office in January 2014, Governor McAuliffe has encouraged and overseen important tourism product development projects across the Commonwealth, creating thousands of jobs and injecting millions of dollars into Virginia communities. The number of new tourism products and their impact on Virginia’s economy has grown exponentially under the leadership of Governor McAuliffe, as Virginia witnessed an influx of new hotels, breweries, wineries, cideries, distilleries, restaurants, sports complexes, artisan trails, agritourism businesses, outfitters, museums, and more. Additionally, Governor McAuliffe has awarded more than $3.3 billion in matching tourism grants across the Commonwealth, helping localities to leverage limited marketing dollars and maximize their ability to compete in an overly saturated, overly competitive market. Due to the support of Governor McAuliffe and his administration in tourism development and marketing, every region in Virginia has reported economic growth annually during his tenure.
“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 travel 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 committed to the continued growth of this important industry, and to showing the world why Virginia is for Lovers.”
In 2016, domestic travelers spent nearly $65 million per day across the Commonwealth. Employees in Virginia’s travel industry earned $5.7 billion in payroll income, representing a 5.9 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 has been an ardent supporter of Virginia’s travel and tourism industry,” said Todd Haymore, Secretary of Commerce and Trade. “He is an enthusiastic and passionate ambassador for Virginia, and has helped to spur record-breaking economic growth year after year. The travel industry is the fifth largest private employer in Virginia, and am important sector of the overall Virginia economy. Tourism also contributes to quality of life for our residents, making Virginia the best place to live, work, and raise a family. Over the past four years, the Governor has been dedicated to continually growing the tourism industry by encouraging economic development and new product, which help Virginia compete to be the best place to visit in the country.”
“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, Governor McAuliffe 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 supports 22,000 jobs, contributes $840 million in income, and injects $135 million in state and local taxes. The study was the first statewide benchmark report to measure the economic and fiscal impacts of Virginia’s agritourism industry.
The Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) is the state agency responsible for marketing Virginia as a premier travel destination and promoting the 48-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. Detailed economic impact data by locality will be available in the fall of 2017.
Plan your next vacation in Virginia. Visit virginia.org to discover why Virginia is for Lovers.