During an afternoon event at Brown's Island, Governor Bob McDonnell announced that visitors to Virginia generated $21.2 billion in revenue from tourism in 2012, a four percent increase over 2011 and a new record high for the Commonwealth. The governor also announced that tourism in Virginia supported 210,000 jobs over the year, an increase of one percent in employment, and provided more than $1.36 billion in state and local taxes. During the McDonnell administration, tourism revenues have continued to increase each year, with a total revenue increase of 12.3 percent since 2010.
Speaking about today's announcement, Governor McDonnell remarked, "Virginia's tourism industry continues to generate more revenue and create more good jobs. The remarkable growth in this sector of our economy was responsible for $21.2 billion in revenue last year, a new state record. Tourists from around the country and the world are being drawn to Virginia to walk in the footsteps of Lincoln, participate and learn from our ongoing Civil War Sesquicentennial events, visit our increasingly globally recognized vineyards and enjoy all that this great state has to offer from Atlantic Ocean beaches to Appalachian mountains. From the moment we began our gubernatorial campaign in 2009 we've been focused on doing more to promote all of Virginia's great sites, history and beauty because we know that tourism plays a key role in our economic development in the Commonwealth. In short: tourism equals jobs. We've worked with leaders from both parties to invest wisely in this growth industry and make it an integral part of our overall economic development strategies and policy. That investment is clearly paying off. I congratulate all the Virginians involved in our tourism industry for their great work to set this new state record. I look forward to another record breaking year ahead."
"Tourism is an instant revenue generator for the Commonwealth. 2012 was a banner year for travel and hospitality in Virginia, and we were pleased to see such continued improvement in our tourism economy," said Rita McClenny, president and CEO of VTC. "Tourism is a driving force of Virginia's economy--it creates jobs, generates economic impact, and benefits businesses and communities across the state. We are fortunate to have a governor and members of the General Assembly who recognize the importance of investing in an industry that continues to grow and strengthen our economy."
Since taking office, Governor McDonnell has advanced a number of initiatives to help grow the tourism industry in Virginia and increase tourism to Virginia. Over the past three years, tourism funding, which has a proven 5:1 return on investment, has increased by over $5 million per year. The governor also supported the Governor's Motion Picture Opportunity Fund with $3 million per year in general fund dollars, leading to Virginia's successful recruitment of the filming of Stephen Spielberg's Lincoln to the Commonwealth. In 2011, the General Assembly passed legislation from his "Opportunity at Work" legislative agenda that created the Tourism Development Grant Program. This program allows certain locally endorsed tourism projects to temporarily retain a portion of state and local tax revenue generated from the project combined with a matching contribution from the developer to provide gap financing for the project. In 2010, Governor McDonnell signed into law Virginia's first-ever tax credit legislation for the motion picture industry. Designed to recruit the production of television, film, documentaries and interactive digital media to Virginia, this legislation was part of the Governor's successful Jobs and Opportunity" economic development agenda.
The Virginia Tourism Corporation is the state agency responsible for marketing Virginia to visitors and promoting the Virginia is for Lovers brand. Virginia is for Lovers is the longest-running state tourism slogan in the country. Virginia is for Lovers stands for love, pure and simple, and promotes the state as the ideal destination for loved ones to completely connect on a great vacation. Virginia is for Lovers was named one of the top 10 tourism marketing campaigns of all time by Forbes and was inducted into the National Advertising Walk of Fame in 2009.
In August, VTC's "Old School Virginia" was recognized with an award for best cooperative advertising campaign in the country, the agency's 9th Mercury Award won at U.S. Travel Association's prestigious national annual tourism conference.
Virginia was named one of the top 10 wine travel destinations in the world for 2012 by Wine Enthusiast magazine. Governor McDonnell also recently announced that Virginia wine sales have reached an all-time high, with continued growth pushing sales across the half-million case benchmark. Virginia's craft beer industry is also on the rise, boasting more than 60 breweries across the state.
Love is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Go to http://www.virginia.org/ and start planning a trip or call 1-800-VISITVA to request a free, Virginia is for Lovers Travel Guide.
Autumn is a great time to "fall in love" in Virginia. Discover (or re-discovery) what makes Virginia magical this fall. http://www.virginia.org/fall/.