WOODSTOCK – The Shenandoah County Tourism Council was updated on the tourism side of the proposed 2019 Economic Development Plan during its monthly meeting on Tuesday.
Jenna French, director of tourism and economic development for Shenandoah County, told the board that the plan, which was developed by RKG Associates Inc., recommended that the county continue efforts to develop agritourism and agribusiness, which includes beverage manufacturing, having seasonal attractions available, and providing on-site hospitality like hotels.
“We see opportunities for us to do that,” she said.
French said this area has seen growth in vineyards and wineries during the past few years. She said that in the time since the 2017 Census of Agriculture, seven vineyards have been established in Shenandoah County.
“There has been significant growth in that particular area for us,” French said. “We see that continuing to expand.”
French said that RKG Associates also recommends creating a workforce that supports existing and targeted industries - including food services and accommodations - and preserving the quality of life for current and future residents.
“It’s a strong goal coming out of this plan,” she said. “Preserving the quality of life is important to the strategic planning process. It’s why we all chose to live [in Shenandoah County]. We don’t want to necessarily compromise the integrity of Shenandoah County at the expense of industry.”
French said that according to the target industry analysis portion of the development plan, the tourism industry is moving to more “experiential” activities and away from the “passive/observational” activities.
“We’re moving away from people doing things like going and looking at exhibits in a museum,” she said. “They want to be able to experience things first-hand.”
French said that analysis has found that advantages for tourism in Shenandoah County include unique tourism assets, four-seasons attractions - like Bryce Resort and Shenandoah Caverns - and outdoor opportunities.
The final Economic Development Plan will be considered for approval by the Board of Supervisors in early December.