Shenandoah County gets grant to market Spirits Trail

The Shenandoah Spirits Trail may soon be more crowded.

Shenandoah County has received a $36,000 grant to help fund marketing for the trail.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe recently announced the award, said Shenandoah County Director of Marketing and Tourism Jenna French. The grant comes from the Virginia Tourism Corporation Marketing Leverage Program grant fund, an organization designed to promote tourism.

The Spirits Trail includes more than 40 vineyards, breweries, cideries and distilleries from among seven municipalities from Clarke to Rockingham counties, she said.

“The response to this trail has been tremendous,” French said. “Since the start of the trail last year, it has developed organically. Vineyards refer people to breweries who refer people to the cideries.”

Virginia just released its 2016 economic study. It revealed Shenandoah County had a 4.8 percent, or $10 million, increase from 2015 in tourism revenue to reach a total of $213 million.

The exact amount brought in by the Spirit Trail is unknown but it had an impact on that figure, French said.

To be eligible for the state grant, Shenandoah County had to match the state grant by a minimum of 2:1.

The county partnered with Clarke, Rockingham, Frederick, Warren and Page counties as well as Winchester and Harrisonburg to obtain the $72,000 in matching funds, according to the statement.

This is for a project created to expand the existing footprint of the Shenandoah Spirits Trail to the entire Northern Shenandoah Valley. The funds are being used to develop a new website, create promotional materials — such as maps and posters — and implement print advertising and digital marketing material with the goal of promoting the trail to people outside the Shenandoah Valley.

Tourism is Virginia’s fifth largest industry. Research has shown every dollar spent on marketing grants results in $16 of visitor spending. Last year, tourism generated $24 billion in revenue, according to a prepared statement from the office of Todd Haymore, Secretary of Commerce and Trade.