Gateway to the South of United States, located midway between New York and Florida – Virginia tries to increase visitation. It was announced that more than $773,000 in matching grant funds will be awarded to 51 local tourism initiatives as part of the Virginia Tourism Corporation's (VTC) Marketing Leverage Program. The grants are designed to help local and regional tourism entities attract more visitors by leveraging local marketing dollars, and will ultimately impact at least 229 other statewide tourism entities.
The local organizations match the state grant funds by a minimum of 2:1 in order to support marketing projects. This funding cycle, the local partners will match the VTC grant dollars with more than $2.2 million, providing $3 million total in new marketing to increase visitation to Virginia.
Tourism is an instant revenue generator for Virginia. In 2013, tourism generated $21.5 billion in revenue, supported 213,000 jobs and provided $1.42 billion in state and local taxes. Dollars invested in tourism are proven to provide a 5:1 return in tax revenue for Virginia, and the grant awards and matching funds provide a stimulus to localities seeking to increase tourism visitation and revenue.
VTC's Marketing Leverage Program is designed to increase visitor spending by leveraging limited marketing dollars, stimulating new tourism marketing through partnerships, and extending the "Virginia is for Lovers" brand. A minimum of three Virginia entities must partner financially to apply for a grant. Partners may consist of Virginia cities, towns, counties, convention and visitors bureaus, chambers of commerce, other local or regional destination marketing organizations, private businesses, museums, attractions, cultural events, and other not-for-profit entities. In total, VTC awards approximately $1.7 million annually - matched and leveraged on average 3:1 by partner dollars.
"These grants are powerful and innovative tools for small businesses across the state," said Maurice Jones, Secretary of Commerce and Trade. "Tourism is an important contributor to Virginia's economy, and these tourism marketing initiatives will help to attract new visitors to the Commonwealth. Continuing to support our diverse economy will help to ensure that Virginia remains one of the best places to live, work, play and raise a family."
Photo Credits: Staunton CVB, Woods Pierce