Virginia tourism industry seeking $50M boost from lawmakers

Virginia State Capitol.
Virginia State Capitol.((Source: Capital News Service))
Updated: Jun. 16, 2021 at 4:43 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Warmer temperatures and rolled back COVID restrictions seem like a recipe for success in the tourism industry.

But not so fast, says Virginia Tourism Corporation President and CEO Rita McClenny.

“While things are getting better, we’re not there yet,” she said.

That’s why her team is asking state lawmakers for $50 million out of the $4.3 billion in federal aid Virginia has received from the American Rescue Plan.

“If we do nothing, we won’t recover until way into 2023,” said McClenny.

$20 million will be used on marketing campaigns designed to attract visitors from other states.

“What we want to do is generate awareness, increase consideration, and ultimately close the deal with a booking,” said McClenny.

Sen. John Edwards (D-Roanoke) says,”The other 30 million will go to 133 localities, and they need the money because the money’s not coming in.”

It’s an investment officials say will pay for itself when meals and lodging taxes pick back up thanks to increased visitors.

“That spending ultimately helps with the bottom line, generating tax revenue,” said McClenny.

“Tourism has always been important to Virginia,” added Edwards. “Look at how many great places there are to travel in Virginia: Southwest Virginia, outdoor tourism is very important.”

Edwards says this funding request will be among the issues discussed at a special General Assembly session expected to begin later this summer. A date has not yet been announced.

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