County receives grant for tourism marketing initiative

By Katie Demeria

Shenandoah County received a $4,760 grant from the Virginia Tourism Corporation Marketing Leverage Program to put toward a new marketing initiative.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced the grants Thursday, according to a Shenandoah County Tourism news release.

Jenna French, director of tourism and marketing, said the grants are matching. The county partnered with Bryce Resort and Hampton Inn and Suites of Woodstock, so the three will collectively be contributing the other half.

Those entities were natural partners, she added, as the new initiative is called “Come Play Outdoors” and will encourage visitors to engage in the county’s many outdoor recreations.

“When you think of outdoor recreation in Shenandoah County, Bryce immediately comes to mind,” French said. “It was really great to see the Hampton come on board because they in turn see the value in that so many are coming here to enjoy our recreation.”

The initiative includes the county’s first outdoor recreation guide and a marketing video that includes footage of various recreational activities in the area.

The tourism council had initially planned to request enough funds to cover printing and design costs for the physical guide.

“But as we started the application process, we thought, we really haven’t done a whole lot in the past to promote outdoor recreation as a whole in our advertising, so maybe we could spin this as an entire marketing initiative,” French said.

The funds, therefore, will not just go toward the video and guide, but also to new advertisements and marketing plans as well.

“We’re very excited,” she said.

The video is just about finished, according to French, with only some footage of a hang glider from the top of the Woodstock tower waiting to be added. It should be viewable on the tourism website in October.

But the video will also be used on various websites as an ad to draw people to the area.

“The physical guide is probably going to take a little longer just because we really want to make sure we don’t miss anything,” French said. “We’re going to tap into various resources, people who are experts in biking and avid hikers, so no trail goes uncovered.”

According to the news release, the Virginia Tourism Corporation “awarded more than $852,000 for 46 tourism marketing projects across the state to help increase visitation and revenue for Virginia’s localities through tourism.”

The grant announcements come only a few weeks after the corporation released economic impact profiles, revealing that tourism revenue rose by $21.5 billion in 2013 throughout the commonwealth.

Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kdemeria@nvdaily.com