Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today that Virginia’s tourism revenues are expected to exceed $22.4 billion in 2014, a 4.1 percent increase over 2013. In 2014, tourism in Virginia supported an estimated 216,000 jobs, an increase of 1.5 percent in employment, and provided more than $1.5 billion in state and local revenue, an increase of 5.6 percent compared to 2013. The increase is largely attributed to Virginia’s authentic, local travel experiences and surging culinary scene.
Speaking about today’s announcement at a press conference in Richmond, Governor McAuliffe said, “These new figures illustrate the importance of investing in tourism, an industry which is helping to build a new Virginia economy, creating solid, good-paying jobs for our residents. Travelers are coming to Virginia to experience our award-winning wine, craft beer, cider and spirits, and to taste dishes prepared by chefs that are gaining notoriety all over the world for top-notch dining.”
“Tourism is one of the five largest industries in Virginia, generating economic growth in all regions of the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones. “Today’s news is excellent. What is even better is we have more opportunities for prosperity in this strategic sector. With continuing teamwork among state, local and private sector partners, we will capture to the fullest the benefits of our tremendous tourism assets.”
No other state came close to earning the culinary accolades that Virginia did in 2014. Virginia’s surging restaurant and bar scene propelled the Commonwealth to new heights in the opinion of leading food and drink journals. Virginia chefs elbowed their way into the top echelon aided enormously by top Virginia-based purveyors in homegrown meat, seafood and produce along with artisanal cheese makers, bakers and salumeria. Craft brewers in Virginia have created a sensation with a collection of top ribbons in national and international competitions, joining Virginia wine, cider and spirits in elevating the state’s long-standing reputation for good things in a bottle. All told, Virginia has staked its place at the table in any national conversation about “America’s best” food and drink. Esquire magazine named Virginia the “Food Region of 2014” in its November issue.
“2014 was a banner year for Virginia’s food scene as the nation took notice of our exceptional regional flavors and a rich heritage that offers a distinctive sense of place,” said First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe. “Virginia chefs are committed to serving dishes that reflect our regional diversity, sourcing from local farms and purveyors to provide extraordinary dining experiences. That’s why travelers from across the country and the world are coming to Virginia to experience our outstanding restaurants, wineries, craft breweries, cideries, distilleries, farms and more.”
Personalized, local and authentic travel experiences offered across the Commonwealth also contributed to the increase in visitation in 2014. Visitors to Virginia enjoyed experiential travel activities: visiting 36 state parks and 28 miles of warm, sunny beaches; sipping wine at one of 250+ wineries; tasting oysters from one of Virginia’s seven oyster regions; listening to music along 300 miles of the Crooked Road Music Heritage Trail; traversing 90 miles of ATV trails; cheering on favorite drivers at four Sprint Cup Series NASCAR races; and cruising more than 3,000 miles of scenic roadways, taking travelers to coastal beauty, mountain vistas, quaint small towns, and peaceful countryside. These unique tourism businesses and products are also important economic drivers in the economy.
The Virginia Tourism Corporation is the state agency responsible for marketing Virginia to visitors and promoting the 46-year old Virginia is for Lovers brand. Virginia is for Lovers is the longest-running state tourism slogan in the country. Virginia is for Lovers stands for love, pure and simple, and promotes the state as the ideal destination for loved ones to completely connect on a great vacation. Virginia is for Lovers was named one of the top 10 tourism marketing campaigns of all time by Forbes and was inducted into the National Advertising Walk of Fame in 2009.
The Virginia Tourism Corporation (virginia.org) 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 is available on www.vatc.org under Research.