Tourists boost local economy

Visitors to Shenandoah County spent $192 million in 2013

By Katie Demeria

WOODSTOCK — Travelers are continuing to visit the Northern Shenandoah Valley, providing a great deal of revenue to Frederick, Shenandoah and Warren counties, according to a recent report.

The Virginia Tourism Corporation released economic impact profiles for each county in the state, outlining the amount of tourism revenue each locality collected in 2013.

Shenandoah County leads the region with more than $192 million in expenditures by visitors last year, a 3.5 percent increase over the previous year.

Warren County’s visitor expenditures increased by 2.3 percent at $125 million, Frederick County’s by 5.2 percent with $124 million, and Winchester’s by 4.7 percent at $100 million.

Sally Coates, executive director of the Winchester-Frederick County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the increase reflects a strengthening economy.

“Let’s face it, the economy is better than it was a couple of years ago, and I don’t think people want to stay home,” Coates said. “They want to go out and they want to have experiences.”

The trends in the Shenandoah Valley reflect those found throughout the rest of the state, as well. Virginia saw a collective 1.4 percent increase to tourism revenue in 2013. While that may seem slight, the Associated Press reports that represents a 43 percent increase since 2004.

In total, tourism revenue rose by $21.5 billion in 2013 throughout the commonwealth, according to the Virginia Tourism Corporation.

Shenandoah County’s director of tourism and marketing, Jenna French, presented the data to the Board of Supervisors during its meeting Tuesday.

French pointed out that 1,662 tourism jobs exist within the county.

“And I’d be remiss to not mention that more than $5.5 million in local tax receipts came to the county as a result of tourism,” she said. “That is also a 5 percent increase.”

“As you can tell, tourism is an incredibly important part of the economic development for our county and we are extremely pleased to show that those numbers continue to grow year after year,” French told the board.

Coates said that, combined, Winchester and Warren County saw an increase of 9.9 percent. Winchester supported 996 tourism-related jobs in 2013 while Frederick County supported 1,253. Moreover, tourism returned $3.6 million in tax receipts to the county and $3.3 million to the city.

“It’s important to get the word out and let people know that the economy is getting better, and that we’re keeping up with it,” Coates said.

Tourism in Warren County supported 1,525 jobs in 2013 and resulted in $2.4 million in local tax receipts.

The Virginia Tourism Corporation’s economic impact profiles are based on studies conducted by the United States Travel Association.

Twenty-eight percent of tourism revenue throughout the state was spent on food service, the corporation reports, followed by auto transportation at 24 percent and lodging at 18 percent.

The report also states that tourism supported a total of 213,000 jobs throughout the entire state in 2013 and provided $1.42 billion in state and local taxes.

Warren County’s tourism officials were unavailable for comment on Tuesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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