Tourism revenue reaches pinnacle in county, statewide visitor spending reached $27 billion

Tourism revenue for Patrick County reached $29,841,823, a 2.2 percent change over 2018. Local tourism-supported jobs totaled 279 while local tourism-related taxes were $852,755.

According to the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC), tourism in Virginia generated $27 billion in visitor spending in 2019. The tourism industry also supported 237,000 jobs for Virginia communities and provided $1.8 billion in state and local revenue. Virginia ranks 8th in the nation for domestic travel spending. All data is from the U.S. Travel Association and is based on domestic visitor spending from trips taken 50 miles or more away from home.

The travel industry in the Commonwealth has continued to grow 10 years in a row with a compound annual growth rate of 3.9 percent since 2010. However, these figures do not account for the devastating impact that COVID-19 has had on the tourism industry. 

The coronavirus pandemic put the Virginia travel and tourism industry in crisis, and imposed a devastating strain on Virginia’s hotels, restaurants, attractions, and communities. The pandemic caused decreased revenue and a reduced workforce, while some businesses have been forced to shutter temporarily if not completely. As a result, early numbers for 2020 project a sharp decrease in tourism spending.

Some businesses in Patrick County have improvised by adding more outdoor seating and implementing take-out and drive-up options.

As the Commonwealth continues to grapple with the impact of COVID-19, the pandemic has further emphasized the stark contrast in 2019 and 2020 and that statewide economic revival cannot occur without the recovery of the travel industry.

The Patrick County Tourism Department applied and received $10K from Virginia Tourism Corporation for the WanderLove campaign that was awarded due to COVID-19. The WanderLove Grant campaign provides travel inspiration for road trips, outdoor recreation, hidden gems, small towns, and Virginia’s signature LOVEWorks program.

The WanderLove funds showcases five “wide open Patrick County space itineraries” which features agritourism, scenic overlooks, rock churches in Patrick and Floyd County, and the LOVEWorks Trails. Currently, target marketing in being used to showcase the fall colored mountains of Patrick County through digital advertising, targeting folks in the Virginia Tidewater beach areas.

The tourism department has also launched a new tourism website (https://www.visitpatrickcounty.org). Content for the tourism website is being generated daily and will feature much more tourism related information as the year progresses.

As of late, two trail systems- The DeHart Botanical Gardens (located on Route 58) and the Virginia State Championship Mountain Bike Trail (located in the Woolwine DeHart Park) are receiving attention for signage and cleanup by the Tourism Department with help from Ferrum College, The Reynolds Homestead College of Older Adults, The Homestead Hikers and other partners of Patrick County Tourism.

While the coronavirus has had a significant impact on Virginia’s tourism economy, the industry remains hopeful for a robust return to 2019 numbers in the future. Tourism will be key to economic recovery as the pandemic stabilizes and leisure and business travel resumes. As Americans begin to travel again, the Patrick County Tourism Department intends to help restore the tourism economy into the economic engine it always has been.

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