Virginia’s Blue Ridge Region Receives Virginia Tourism Corporation Recovery Marketing Leverage Grants for Tourism Marketing
Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge received $20,000 from the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s (VTC) Recovery Marketing Leverage Program (RMLP), designed to help local and regional tourism entities attract more visitors by leveraging limited local marketing dollars through a local match of the state grants funds. In addition, several destinations in Virginia’s Blue Ridge also received grant funds. Botetourt County received $20,000, the City of Salem received $10,000, the Town of Rocky Mount received $10,000 and the Smith Mountain Lake Chamber of Commerce received $20,000 for a total of $80,000 in marketing leverage dollars.
More than $1.9 million in matching grant funds were awarded to 161 local tourism initiatives through this program. This funding cycle, local partners will provide more than $5.6 million in-kind value to match the VTC grants. The grants will ultimately impact 483 statewide tourism entities.
“These dollars are critical to our marketing efforts as we focus on recovery in 2021,” stated Landon Howard, President of Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge. “We look forward to the day when restrictions are lifted in Virginia and across the nation of which research indicates travelers will be gearing up for road trips – seeking safe, close-to-home destinations that allow for social distancing and access to open spaces.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the tourism and hospitality industries in Virginia. As the Commonwealth slowly reopens for business, VTC offered these grant funds as a first step to re-entry into the marketplace to spur economic activity and future travel across the Commonwealth of Virginia.
“Tourism is a crucial section of the Virginia economy and when we invest in this industry, we support local job creation and drive regional economic growth, which is desperately needed now due to the pandemic,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “These funds give localities and businesses access to critical marketing resources that will help bring more travelers to our Commonwealth, increase visitor spending, and grow demand for Virginia products.”
Tourism is one of the Commonwealth’s largest economic engines, with visitors to Virginia’s Blue Ridge spending more than $920 million in 2019, supporting 8,177 work opportunities and contributing nearly $67 million in local and state tax revenue. The tourism and hospitality industries have also been among the hardest-hit by the pandemic, experiencing decreased revenue and job loss, along with the temporary closure of many tourism-related businesses. A revived tourism economy can help spur new economic activity and inject critical funds back into Virginia communities.
About Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge (VBR) – Visit VBR is the official destination marketing organization for the Cities of Roanoke and Salem and the Counties of Botetourt, Franklin and Roanoke. Visit VBR is a non-profit organization contributing to the economy through marketing, sales and services of meetings and sports groups. Visit VBR supports a vital and growing component of the local economy generating 8,177 jobs and $920 million in direct economic impact annually. For more information, go to VisitVBR.com/about us
About Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) - Virginia Tourism Corporation is the state agency charged with marketing the Commonwealth as a premier travel and film destination. In 2019, visitors to Virginia spent $27 billion, which supported 237,000 work opportunities and contributed $1.8 billion in state and local taxes. To learn more, visit www.virginia.org
RECOVERY MARKETING LEVERAGE GRANT CONTACTS –
Catherine Fox, Vice-President of Public Affairs & Destination Development
Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge and Botetourt County
(540) 494-0514 (cell)
Carey Harveycutter, Tourism Director
City of Salem
(540) 793-0982 (cell)
Beth Simms, Economic Development Director
Town of Rocky Mount
Christopher E. Finley, Executive Director
Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce
(540) 315-0568 (cell)