Virginia sees increase in tourism revenue

Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced Wednesday that Virginia’s 2015 tourism revenues increased 2.3 percent from 2014, generating more than $23 billion in revenue.

According to a press release from his office, this revenue supported some 222,600 jobs throughout the state.

Jenna French serves as director of the Shenandoah County Tourism Board. She said she’s excited to see the pattern of growth continue and is proud of the work both she and her colleagues have done to help build Virginia become the ninth highest ranking state in terms of domestic traveler spending.

“We’re excited to see the continued growth in the industry,” French said. “A big part of it is that Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley have some wonderful assets to share with folks throughout the country, and international travelers as well.”

According to the press release, domestic travelers spent $63 million per day in Virginia in 2015. This earned employees $5.3 billion in payroll income.

As of now, the data is preliminary, said Christina Nuckols, deputy communications director for the governor. Nuckols said the final state data, as well as information by county and city, will be released later this summer.

Looking back at the 2014 data, Arlington County led the state in travel expenditures at $3 billion, followed by Fairfax County, Loudoun County, Virginia Beach City and Henrico County.

In the same period, Frederick County received $129.95 million in expenditures, Shenandoah County received $199.83 million, Warren County received $134.03 million, and Winchester City earned $105.59 million.

Speaking of 2015’s success, French said much of it is the result of work from the workers from the state level down to the county level to bring tourists to Virginia. She said the “Virginia is For Lovers” logo is one of the most recognized tourism brands internationally and has been a successful marketing draw.

While final data won’t be released for a few months, French said she’s expecting growth from Shenandoah County given her interactions with hotel managers and restaurant owners over the past few months.

She added she’s happy to see what’s going on and happier to see the work being put in to grow tourism in Virginia.

“We’re lucky that people in the community are seeing the value in tourism and what it can do to help the economy,” French said.

Contact staff writer Jake Zuckerman at 540-465-5137 ext. 152, or jzuckerman@nvdaily.com