Tourism brings billions of dollars to Virginia, millions to Shenandoah County

Tourism dollars flooded into Virginia last year to the tune of $25 billion, according to data released by the United States Travel Association.

Every region in the state thrived, posting increases in tourism revenues across the board. Shenandoah County enjoyed a 5 percent increase from 2016, bringing in $223,671,059 in 2017.  Payroll increases for Shenandoah County went up 5.2 percent and employment 1.7 percent.

Jenna French, the director of tourism and economic development for Shenandoah County, cited popular attractions as well as the budding wine and brewery business for the county’s success.

“Staple attractions such as the Shenandoah Caverns, Bryce Resort and the Virginia Museum of the Civil War along with new destinations such as the growing number of vineyards, breweries and agritourism venues and the increased popularity in outdoor recreation have helped propel Shenandoah County as a premier destination for leisure travel,” French stated in a news release.

Travel and tourism jobs are the fifth largest non-farm industry employer in Virginia. The Virginia Tourism Corporation report states, “the most impressive contribution that travel and tourism makes to the Virginia economy is the number of jobs it supports.”

More than 7 percent of jobs in Virginia were directly supported by domestic travel expenditures last year.

The VTC report is just a snapshot of tourism numbers for the state. Only domestic travel of more than 50 miles was factored into the report.

Shenandoah County ranked 23rd in the state for tourism dollars produced. Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Virginia Beach City topped the list, raking in over $1 billion apiece.

Within the valley, Shenandoah County stood out, enjoying nearly $10 million in tourism expenditures. Tourism ranks only behind agriculture as the biggest industry in the county.

“Agriculture is the county’s leading industry,” French wrote in an email, “but not necessarily the county’s largest source of revenue generation,” thanks to taxes collected from tourism hotspots including restaurants, hotels and local businesses.