Participating Destination Marketing Organizations also set to receive up to $20,000 implementation grants.
RICHMOND – Today, Governor Glenn Youngkin announced that 10 Virginia communities will launch new tourism programs intended to boost their outdoor recreation economy. Each will receive up to $20,000 through the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s (VTC) DRIVE Outdoor grant program, a tourism development grant program targeting outdoor product development and entrepreneurial expansion throughout the Commonwealth. Participating communities utilized current travel data, trends, and research to develop their plans along with holding workshops to gather input from the public and stakeholders on how the plans could attract new travelers and boost economic activity.
“Outdoor recreation is an important part of Virginia’s economy and key to furthering the Commonwealth’s position as a top destination on the East Coast,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “The projects developed from the DRIVE Outdoor program will spur job creation and private investment as well as yield endless opportunities for outdoor-focused partnerships.”
To meet the consumer demand for upcoming summer travel, Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) can use awarded funds for development projects that will have an immediate impact on their outdoor recreation offerings including purchasing new outdoor recreation equipment for more rentals and outfitting opportunities, events, or studies for outdoor recreation development and expansion.
DRIVE Outdoor Community
- Charlottesville-Albemarle County
- Floyd County
- Giles County
- Lexington-Rockbridge Area
- Nelson County
- Smithfield-Isle of Wight County
- Virginia’s Blue Ridge
Outdoor recreation has proven to be a recession-proof industry and a driving force in the American economy. In 2021, outdoor recreation contributed $9.4 billion to the Commonwealth’s economy and supported 107,000 jobs and $4.8 billion in wages and salaries in Virginia according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Virginia’s outdoor recreation economy accounts for 1.6% share of the state’s GDP.
“Virginia is known for its natural beauty. Growing our outdoor economy will spur job creation and private investment, further enhance Virginia as an outdoor destination, and yield endless opportunities for outdoor-focused tourism partnerships,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick. “The opportunities created from this program will help further position Virginia as the top state on the East Coast for outdoor recreation and a natural fit for outdoor businesses.”
DRIVE Outdoor builds on the DRIVE 2.0 Statewide Strategic Plan to enhance outdoor recreational development, assets, and entrepreneurial opportunities within Virginia. Following their participation in the program, communities received the foundation for a competitive outdoor product development plan, including specific action steps, success factors, timelines, priorities, and identified partners to help with project success.
“These new outdoor recreation projects will only add to the tourism opportunities across the Commonwealth, a destination already celebrated for its iconic outdoor assets,” said Rita McClenny, President and CEO of Virginia Tourism Corporation. “Virginia offers unparalleled outdoor experiences enjoyed by millions of people every year and the projects these communities develop will only further solidify our reputation as a premier destination for outdoor lovers.”
“Product development is essential,” said Courtney Cacatian, Executive Director for the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau, a participant in the program. “The DRIVE Program was a great way for us to gather community stakeholders and initiate conversations that we may not have otherwise. We need product development in order address gaps in our destination.”
DRIVE Outdoor will create new outdoor recreation experiences in Virginia to add to the variety of its approachable activities for every skill level and interest. To explore more of Virginia’s numerous outdoor offerings, visit virginia.org/outdoors.
The next round of DRIVE Outdoor will open Summer 2023. To learn more about DRIVE Outdoor, please visit vatc.org/driveoutdoor.