Partnership formed to promote Valley tourism

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Print this page  by Joan Tupponce
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Visitors to the Shenandoah Valley often are not aware of what the region has to offer. The Shenandoah Valley Tourism Partnership is hoping to change that with its new marketing campaign slogan, “Today’s Shenandoah Valley.”

The marketing effort started as a collaboration involving marketing officials employed by localities throughout the region. “Our jobs are to promote our destinations to increase visitation, which ultimately supports our local economies,” says Jenna French, director of tourism and marketing for Shenandoah County. “We saw great potential in working together to promote the Shenandoah Valley as a regional destination.”

According to Virginia Tourism Corp., visitors to the Shenandoah Valley in 2015 generated $1.3 billion in direct spending, a 1.5 percent increase over the previous year. “They also supported $97.2 million in state and local taxes,” says French. “Our goal is to drive those numbers up with increased visitation.”

Launched in May, the tourism partnership now involves 13 communities, stretching from Winchester to Lexington. “Visitors don’t see jurisdictional boundaries, and promoting the region as a whole enables us to encourage people to plan longer trips to the area instead of seeing our individual localities as a weekend destination,” French says.

Working together also enables the localities to pool their resources and take on projects that would otherwise be too expensive for individual budgets. “A great example of this is a PBS travel series we hosted last year called ‘Family Travels with Colleen Kelly,’ which will air this summer throughout the country and even internationally,” French says. “As individual localities, we wouldn’t have had the resources to host them on our own.” 

In working with the partnership to evaluate the area’s strengths and visitor perceptions of the region, Mikula|Harris, a branding and advertising agency, came up with three areas of focus: outdoor recreation and scenic beauty, family travels and growing an interest in the area’s farm-to-table movement.

“Our main goal now is to increase awareness of the Shenandoah Valley as a premiere travel destination,” French says.

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