$861,080 of Grants Awarded to Local Tourism Initiatives

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Colonial Williamsburg Governor's Palace. (WYDaily/File photo)
Colonial Williamsburg Governor’s Palace. (WYDaily/File photo)

STATEWIDE- Across Virginia, 64 tourism initiatives are now the recipients of  grants totaling up to $861,080 as part of the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s (VTC) Recovery Marketing Leverage Program.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced the grants in a Aug. 11 news release.

According to the release, VTC revised its traditional Marketing Leverage Program to create the recovery program in an effort to support tourism initiatives responding and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Recovery Marketing Leverage Program grant application was open to all Virginia tourism industry partners. The awarded funds help local and regional tourism programs leverage limited marketing budgets through in-kind matches of state grants, totaling more than $2.2 million. This program will impact over 380 tourism entities across the Commonwealth.

Local recipients of the grants include the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, York County, and York County Office of Economic Development for their program, Holidays on THE EDGE.

“The tourism and hospitality industries have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic,” Gov. Northam said in a released statement. “The Commonwealth is stepping in to address the impacts of decreased revenue and job loss, along with the temporary closure of tourism-related businesses. These funds are the latest step in Virginia’s efforts to revive our tourism economy, spur new economic activity, and inject critical funds back into our communities.”

According to the release, visitors to Virginia spent $27 billion in 2019—a 3.4 percent increase from 2018—supporting 237,000 work opportunities and contributing $1.8 billion in state and local taxes.

In 2020, the industry saw a major decline in revenues. 2021 projects similar revenue declines.

“We want to equip Virginia destinations with the tools they need to support and promote the diverse communities that travelers love to visit,” Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball said in a released statement. “Many people are eager to go on vacations again, and these grants will help towns and cities across our Commonwealth position themselves for success as visitors get back on the road.”

The Virginia Tourism Corporation offered these grants as a way to stimulate re-entry into the marketplace and will lead to increased economic activity and promote travel across the Commonwealth, according to the release.

The Recovery Marketing Leverage Program is designed to increase visitor spending through new tourism marketing partnerships and by expanding the “Virginia is for Lovers” brand. Past and present awardees include destination marketing organizations, museums, cultural events, foundations, and private sector businesses.

For more information on Virginia Tourism Corporation’s industry assistance programs, including the COVID-19 Industry Response Toolkit, visit vatc.org. A full list of Recovery Marketing Leverage Program grant recipients can be viewed here.

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