Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Just in case school starts sooner, Visitors Bureau working to be ready

VIRGINIA BEACH — Many states in the nation already start their school year well before Labor Day and the long holiday weekend, so families in those states have learned to schedule vacations accordingly.

But in Virginia, where by law school starts after the first Monday in September, the week leading up to Labor Day and the extended holiday weekend is prime vacation time and a final chance to pack up and go enjoy a week at the beach.

If Virginia were to pass legislation allowing classes to resume sooner, families would need to adjust their vacation plans accordingly. While that would have a limited impact on most cities, in Virginia Beach – where tourism is critical to the local economy – a shorter tourism season could be felt much more directly here.

“Looking at many factors, including the possibility of early school openings in several of our markets, the CVB has leveraged efforts leading up to our shoulder season to market to additional audiences, including couples who travel without kids, girlfriend getaways, the homeschool community and those who travel to enjoy various lifestyle experiences such as arts and culture, culinary and spirits, and wellness,” said Teresa Diaz, community outreach and relationship coordinator for the Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Since 1986 schools across Virginia have started the day after Labor Day. But it looks like the House of Delegates could, once again, be considering legislation that would move up the start date of schools in the state.

Should 7-10 days of vacation season be lost to the city and its in-state visitors, the VBCVB is diversifying its efforts and looking at other ways to offset any business that might be lost.

“We have also focused efforts on increasing our meeting and convention business,” Diaz said. “With the addition of the new sports center, we will have the opportunity to expand our sports marketing bookings.”

But, Diaz pointed out, June through September, which make up the prime vacation months across the country, aren’t the only months people travel to Virginia Beach.

“While Virginia Beach does enjoy strong summer visitation from both overnight and day visitors, shoulder season visitation accounts for almost 65 percent of our annual room nights,” Diaz said.

“Shoulder season” are the months from October to May.

On Wednesday, Southside Daily reported that Del. Jason Miyares of Virginia Beach voted against HB1020 in January. The bill would have given individual school districts the authority to schedule their own school start date.

Miyares said tourism was the reason he voted against the bill.

“Voting against this is just recognition that tourism is a huge driver of the Virginia Beach economy and that employs a lot of people,” Miyares said.

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