Greater Williamsburg Brings in $1.15 Billion from Tourist Spending in 2014

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From left, GWCTA President and CEO Karen Riordan, York County District 1 Supervisor Walt Zaremba, JCC Roberts Supervisor John McGlennon, JCC Berkeley Supervisor Ruth Larson, City Council member Paul Freiling and City Mayor Clyde Haulman hold a mock check totaling the 2014 local tax receipts that benefited their localities. (Kirsten Petersen/ WYDaily)
From left, GWCTA President and CEO Karen Riordan, York County District 1 Supervisor Walt Zaremba, JCC Roberts Supervisor John McGlennon, JCC Berkeley Supervisor Ruth Larson, City Council member Paul Freiling and City Mayor Clyde Haulman hold a mock check totaling the 2014 local tax receipts from visitors that benefited their localities. (Kirsten Petersen/WYDaily)

Greater Williamsburg business owners, travel industry professionals and elected officials celebrated the $1.15 billion generated in 2014 by tourist spending during a rally Friday morning.

Karen Riordan, president and CEO of the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance, said those expenditures supported more than 11,000 jobs and resulted in about $41.5 million in state and local taxes in 2014.

“There’s a great buzz in Williamsburg now,” said Leigh Houghland, chairman of the Alliance’s Board of Directors, noting the excitement around new events and attractions like the musket range, breweries and Funhouse Fest. “We’re reinventing ourselves.”

Riordan presented a mock check to elected officials from the City of Williamsburg, James City County and York County totaling $41.5 million during the rally.

Of that $41.5 million, the city benefited from $17.9 million, JCC received $15.8 million and York brought in $7.7 million.

The regional tax relief afforded by tourist spending could cover the salaries of 904 firefighters, 801 police officers or 795 teachers, Riordan said. It could also cover the cost to educate 3,794 students.

Riordan said her personal motto is “more is more” as she builds on the momentum of the region’s tourism industry.

“We want to go even bigger and better,” Riordan said.

Riordan and Houghland were joined by State Secretary of Administration Nancy Rodrigues and Eric Terry, president of Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association, who praised the destination for its contributions to state-wide tourism revenue.

“It’s a whole new level of tourism I don’t think we’ve seen before. It’s not just going to the beach anymore,” Terry said.

Williamsburg is currently in the throes of Williamsburg Spring Arts and preparing for the three-day Funhouse Fest concert in June.