Virginia sets new tourism record

Tourism revenue has increased over 12%

9/4/2013, 1:49 p.m.
Visitors to Virginia generated $21.2 billion in revenue from tourism in 2012, a four percent increase over 2011 and a ...
VTC notes that love is at the heart of every Virginia vacation.

Visitors to Virginia generated $21.2 billion in revenue from tourism in 2012, a four percent increase over 2011 and a new record high for the commonwealth. This led to tourism in Virginia supporting 210,000 jobs over the year, an increase of one percent in employment, and provided more than $1.36 billion in state and local taxes.

Gov. Bob McDonnell, who made the announcement of numbers at a Brown's Island event, said that tourists from around the country and the world are drawn to Virginia to walk in the footsteps of Lincoln, participate and learn from our ongoing Civil War Sesquicentennial events, visit increasingly globally recognized vineyards and Atlantic Ocean beaches to Appalachian mountains.

"From the moment we began our gubernatorial campaign in 2009 we've been focused on doing more to promote all of Virginia's great sites, history and beauty because we know that tourism plays a key role in our economic development in the commonwealth," said the governor. "In short: tourism equals jobs.

"We've worked with leaders from both parties to invest wisely in this growth industry and make it an integral part of our overall economic development strategies and policy. That investment is clearly paying off. I congratulate all the Virginians involved in our tourism industry for their great work to set this new state record. I look forward to another record breaking year ahead."

Tourism, described as an instant revenue generator for Virginia, is said to generate economic impact and benefits to businesses and communities across the state.

Over the past three years, tourism funding, which has a proven 5:1 return on investment, has increased by over $5 million per year. The governor also supported the Governor's Motion Picture Opportunity Fund with $3 million per year in general fund dollars, leading to Virginia's successful recruitment of the filming of Stephen Spielberg's "Lincoln" to the commonwealth. In 2011, the General Assembly passed legislation that created the Tourism Development Grant Program.

This program allows certain locally endorsed tourism projects to temporarily retain a portion of state and local tax revenue generated from the project combined with a matching contribution from the developer to provide gap financing for the project. In 2010, McDonnell signed into law Virginia's first-ever tax credit legislation for the motion picture industry. Designed to recruit the production of television, film, documentaries and interactive digital media to Virginia, this legislation was part of the governor's "Jobs and Opportunity" economic development agenda.