Economic impact of cyclist tourism studied

Bicycles and bicyclists are becoming more common throughout the Old Dominion, and the Shenandoah Valley is no exception. A healthy bicycle tourism industry is alive and well in the region, supporting a significant number of jobs and generating substantial income to locales throughout.

The Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission, with several regional partners recently published the results of an economic impact analysis that illustrated the effect of cycling tourists on the economy of the valley.

According to the study, the majority of cyclists who visited the area were middle-aged, with riders 41 to 60 comprising 57 percent of bicyclists.

A sizable portion, 71 percent of riders, stayed in the area overnight, averaging a stay of 2.44 nights, according to the report.

Moreover, the total economic impact felt by bicycle tourism in the area was $13.6 million. The industry also supported 184 jobs in the valley in 2015 according to the report.

Visitor spending had a direct impact of $8.6 million and supported 144 jobs according to the report. The report found that those businesses most impacted by bicycle tourists were restaurants, hotels and motels, and retail establishments.

Elizabeth McCarty is program manager and economic development planner for the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission.

“This was the first economic impact analysis for bicycle tourism in this region,” she stated in an email Wednesday. “The study’s partners recognize that this study sets a baseline. Their hope is to repeat the survey and analysis every two to three years to measure trends in the region’s bicycle tourism industry.”

McCarty said that the results of the study are very encouraging.

“The survey’s results tell us that the Central Shenandoah Valley is a popular biking destination for both road biking and mountain biking,” she stated. “The valley is attracting bicyclists from many places, but primarily from other regions of Virginia and neighboring states. Over half of survey takers were here to participate in a bicycling event such as a race or festival, and a quarter of survey takers were here to enjoy mountain biking. Nearly all, 99 percent, of bicycling tourists that completed the survey replied that they would return to the Central Shenandoah Valley for bicycling.”

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or

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