Virginia tourist attractions range from historic sites to beaches

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Print this page by Veronica Garabelli
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Virginia may be a top state for business, but it’s not all work and no play in the Old Dominion. The following pages will offer a glimpse into Virginia’s tourism industry, a sector that in 2012 brought the state $1.36 billion in taxes and supported 210,000 jobs. 

One way visitors arrive in Virginia is through the state’s nine commercial airports (flip to Page 147 to see how they rank by enplanements). Most of the commonwealth’s commercial airports saw an increase in passenger boardings from 2011 to 2012 except for three. Washington Dulles International Airport and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Northern Virginia continue to be the largest airports in the state in terms of boardings.

Once tourists arrive in the Old Dominion offerings range from historical attractions — think of Monticello and Mount Vernon, for example — to rolling mountains and sandy beaches.

Besides the classic destinations, Virginia is seeing a burgeoning wine and craft beer industry.  Turn to Page 145 to see the largest wineries in the state. If wine isn’t your drink of choice, Page 148 lists the top 10 largest craft breweries in Virginia,  according to the latest data from the Brewers Association (it should be noted, however, that not all companies reported/publicly disclosed their numbers). 

Another tourism sector that’s gaining attention is Virginia’s film industry. Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-winning-film “Lincoln” was shot in Central Virginia in 2011. Portions of “Captain Phillips,” released last fall, were filmed in Hampton Roads. The movie, starring Tom Hanks, tells the story of the 2009 hijacking of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama by a crew of Somali pirates. More recently, the film adaptation of Adriana Trigiani’s “Big Stone Gap” was filmed in Southwest Virginia.

The state also is hoping to pique outsider’s interests in a more obvious way. Starting in March, Virginia’s standard license plates will feature the “Virginia is for Lovers” logo. The popular campaign slogan is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year.

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