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Last year was a stronger year for tourism in Virginia than 2013, with revenues statewide climbing 4.1 percent to $22.4 billion thanks to what Gov. Terry McAuliffe described as “authentic, local travel experiences” and a “surging culinary scene.”
Tourism spending in the commonwealth supported an estimated 216,000 jobs last year, an increase of 1.5 percent from 2013, according to a news release from the governor’s office. In total, tourism provided more than $1.5 billion in revenue for state and local governments.
Local tourism revenue figures were not immediately available on Wednesday. The state figures were compiled by the U.S. Travel Association, a trade group focused on growing businesses connected to traveling.
“These new figures illustrate the importance of investing in tourism, an industry which is helping to build a new Virginia economy, creating solid, good-paying jobs for our residents,” McAuliffe said in the news release. “Travelers are coming to Virginia to experience our award-winning wine, craft beer, cider and spirits, and to taste dishes prepared by chefs that are gaining notoriety all over the world for top-notch dining.”
The news release touted successful reviews of Virginia’s “surging restaurant and bar scene” in food and drink journals. Craft alcohol was also cited as an important part of Virginia’s tourism economy.
“2014 was a banner year for Virginia’s food scene as the nation took notice of our exceptional regional flavors and a rich heritage that offers a distinctive sense of place,” First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe said in the release.
The craft alcohol scene has grown locally in the past few years, with new businesses like the Virginia Beer Company, Copper Fox Distillery and the Williamsburg Distillery set to join established craft alcohol producers like AleWerks Brewing Company. In the last year, legislative action in James City and York counties has opened the door to additional development of craft alcohol production in the Historic Triangle.
Tourism expenditures contributed $1.1 billion to the Historic Triangle’s economy in 2013. It is also estimated to support 11,227 jobs in the area, according to figures shared at a tourism rally in May sponsored by the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance.