~ The agency has been named one of ten of AFAR’s 2022 Travel Vanguard~
RICHMOND – AFAR Media, America’s most critically acclaimed travel media company, has announced that Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) has been selected as one of 10 global visionaries for the 2022 Travel Vanguard awards. The state’s tourism agency was selected for a Travel Vanguard award for its exceptional work creating a more inclusive and equitable destination experience for Black travelers. The annual awards, first launched in 2016, are the highest honor that AFAR bestows and recognize the efforts of those who are making travel a force for good in the world.
“It is a tremendous honor to be recognized by such a prestigious organization like AFAR for our work in creating a more welcoming destination for all travelers,” said Rita McClenny, president and CEO of Virginia Tourism Corporation. “We truly believe that travel has the power to be transformative, and the collaborative and dedicated work of the team at VTC has certainly moved the needle in achieving that for Virginia. Black travel is essential, and we look forward to welcoming travelers from across the globe to discover for themselves why Virginia is for all Lovers.”
Virginia is home to the longest continuous experience of Black life and culture in the United States spanning more than four centuries. VTC, in partnership with JMI, has been working with iconic historic attractions like Montpelier, Monticello, Jamestown and Fort Monroe to tell the stories of Black history that may have been buried or forgotten. Additionally, VTC has been supporting critical research and working with community leaders to gain a deeper understanding of the Black travel experience in Virginia. Its mission is to make the Commonwealth a more welcoming and safe destination for all travelers, and, specifically, Black travelers.
Virginia was the only state to sponsor The Black Traveler: Insights, Opportunities & Priorities, a 2020 research report by MMGY Travel Intelligence. At the time of release, McClenny noted that, “Virginia Tourism Corporation is proud to support this critical research that will further efforts to make the travel industry more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. For too long, Black voices have been underrepresented, signifying a systemic problem within the tourism industry. These challenges are felt at every level, from the individual traveler to meeting professionals to business owners. The findings in this report will help to identify solutions and a clear path forward for the travel industry to do better.”
VTC has also launched a number of consumer-facing programs and initiatives that showcase and celebrate the vibrant Black culture and communities across the Commonwealth, including the Black Travel Digital Sessions virtual destination series, the Heart & Soul marketing campaign celebrating the Black creators of Virginia, and a first-of-its-kind merchandise collaboration with Roanoke-based Hmble Hstle Clothing. The VTC also partnered with the Department of Historic Resources to launch the new Black Heritage Trail. The state ranked among the top states in the Black Travel Alliance’s #PullUpForTravel initiative.
For more information on the 2022 Travel Vanguard, please click here.
About Virginia Tourism Corporation
Virginia is for Lovers is one of the most iconic and recognizable travel brands in the world. Using that powerful brand equity, Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) is charged with promoting the Commonwealth as a premier travel destination by showcasing all there is to love in a Virginia vacation. The dollars spent by travelers fuel the economy, provide jobs for Virginians, and improve communities across the state. Simply put, tourism helps make Virginia a great place to live, work, and visit. Learn more at virginia.org.