RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Virginia’s international visitation reached 1.1 million in 2017, with overseas visitors spending nearly $2 billion. Virginia welcomed 2.7 percent more international visitors in 2017 than 2016, surpassing the United States growth rate of 1.3 percent, based on data from Tourism Economics, while visitor spending soared from $1.7 billion to a record-breaking $1.9 billion. Overseas visitation to Virginia grew at an even faster rate—6.9 percent for the Commonwealth compared to 3.2 percent for the United States.
“International tourism is a critical component of Virginia’s economic strategy, providing jobs for our citizens and driving millions of dollars into communities across the Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. “With our diverse tourism assets and global connectivity, the Commonwealth is well-positioned to capitalize on our forecasted growth in overseas visitation and become a leading destination for international travelers.”
International visits to Virginia are expected to grow to 1.5 million by 2027, an 18 percent increase from 2017, and have already grown by 7 percent since 2010. Overseas visitation specifically has increased by 36 percent since 2010. Growth in visitation has been robust in the majority of overseas markets including Germany, Japan, South Korea, and the United Kingdom.
Virginia draws on a diverse geography of international travelers with almost half coming from Canada, 25 percent from Europe and 15 percent from the Asia Pacific Region. While the Canadian and European markets currently represent the majority of international travelers to Virginia, the Asia Pacific Region will play a key role in the future, forecasted to increase to 18 percent of the Commonwealth’s international visitation by 2027.
“This is exciting news for our tourism industry. The growth in outbound tourism in the Asian markets is fueled in part by the rise in middle-class households,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “That makes Asia an important region for Virginia, not just for tourism, but for trade and business attraction opportunities as well.”
The number of people in middle-class households in Asia will triple by 2020 compared to 2009. Moreover, China and India will be among the top-three countries in middle-class consumption, joining the United States. While the United States topped the list in 2009, by 2030 both India and China are forecast to surpass America in middle-class consumption according to the Brookings Institution and World Bank.
“Our research shows us that Virginia offers the wide diversity of activities international visitors seek when they visit the states,” said Rita McClenny, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Virginia Tourism Corporation. “National parks, American history, beaches, mountains, rich city culture and charming small towns—when combining all that with a dynamite culinary scene, it is easy to see why Virginia is for Lovers and appeals to travel lovers all around the globe.”
In 2017, tourism in Virginia supported 232,000 jobs—an increase of 1.1 percent compared to 2016. The tourism industry also provided $1.73 billion in state and local revenue, an increase of 2.8 percent compared to 2016. The travel industry is the fifth largest employer in Virginia.
About Virginia Tourism
The Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) is the state agency responsible for marketing the Commonwealth as a premier travel and film destination. Its iconic slogan, Virginia is for Lovers, will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2019.
Tourism is an instant revenue generator in Virginia. In 2017, visitors to Virginia spent $25 billion, which supported 232,000 jobs and contributed $1.73 billion in state and local taxes. For more information about Virginia Tourism, please visit virginia.org.