Tourism revenue figures released

The U.S. Travel Association tourism data report for Shenandoah County was released by the county’s tourism department Thursday and revealed a 1.8 percent increase in tourism revenue. Over $203 million dollars was generated by tourism in Shenandoah County in the 2015 fiscal year.

While all regions in the state posted increases and the state’s total tourism industry generated $23 billion, Shenandoah County’s numbers were particularly solid, said Jenna French, director of tourism and marketing for the county.

“We’ve seen steady growth,” French said. “We were excited to see when looking at other localities in the region, that our (Shenandoah County’s) percentage increase is above the regional average. That’s great. It shows us we’re trending above the region. I do know that we’ve seen some of the other localities had been gaining on us, so for us this is good for us.”

French offered some factors that may have contributed to the revenue increase.

“Lower gas prices helped contribute to that and a rise in the economy,” she said. “We’ve also taken on a stronger marketing presence within our county. There’s a lot of new programs that we’re starting. I think it’s a combination of all these factors working together.”

Tourism in the county also supported 1,732 jobs in 2015. French explained the kinds of jobs that fall under that distinction.

“Its a combination of things like people working at the hotels, people in my office, wait staff – people working at restaurants, folks that work at the truck stops, the attractions we have here – the museums,” she said.
“Agriculture is our number one industry and we’re seeing a rise in farm experiences, or agro-tourism, like pick your own berries, and the vineyards are another key attraction and overlap both industries.”

French also explained that while the growth is good news, the county’s tourism department and the various organizations and businesses that are instrumental to tourism in Shenandoah County are still working toward even more growth.

“I foresee a lot of growth still within our region,” she said. “There are a lot of new products. We’re working together regionally to start some new marketing and branding together for the valley. It’s an exciting time for the Shenandoah valley as far as tourism and I think this is just the brink of what’s to come.”

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com