Governor Ralph Northam recently announced that $861,080 in matching grants were awarded to local tourism initiatives as part of the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s (VTC) Recovery Marketing Leverage Program. VTC revised its traditional Marketing Leverage Program to create this recovery program in an effort to support tourism initiatives as they responded to, and recovered 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 more than 380 tourism entities across the commonwealth.
“The tourism and hospitality industries have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic,” said Governor Northam. “The commonwealth is stepping in to address the impact 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.”
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. Not surprisingly, in 2020 there was a major decline in tourism revenues. Forecasts for 2021 project similar revenue declines. Funding opportunities, like the Recover Marketing Leverage Program, are crucial to helping industries in need recover from the impacts of the covid-19 pandemic.
The Virginia Tourism Corporation offered these grants as a way to stimulate re-entry into the marketplace. The grants will lead to increased economic activity and promote travel across the commonwealth. 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.
Recipients in the Hampton Roads area include:
- Hampton Convention and Visitors Bureau (Hampton): Hampton’s Marketing Program
- Hampton History Museum Association (Hampton): Coastal Virginia’s Civil War Trails
- Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation (Jamestown): Explore Jamestown: America’s Birthplace
- Virginia Arts Festival (Norfolk): Williamsburg Live
- Norfolk Festevents, Ltd. (Norfolk): Bringing Nashville to Norfolk!
- Smithfield-Isle of Wight Convention and Visitors Bureau (Smithfield): Every Small Business is a Family Business: Shop Small, Shop Smithfield
- Surry County (Surry): Hiking into History—LOVE the Outdoors in Surry County, Virginia
- Colonial Williamsburg Foundation (Williamsburg): Travel Through History: A Virginia Road Trip (vahistoryroadtrip.com)
- York County (Yorktown): York County Tourism Development—Visit Yorktown
- York County Office of Economic Development (Yorktown): Holidays on the EDGE
For more information on Virginia Tourism Corporation’s industry assistance programs, including a covid-19 Industry Response Toolkit, visit https://vatc.org/.