Hospitality | Tourism 2023: RITA D. McCLENNY
PRESIDENT AND CEO, VIRGINIA TOURISM CORP., RICHMOND
As head of the state’s tourism agency since 2012, McClenny has seen the industry through ups and downs. In the wake of the pandemic, she helped secure federal dollars to assist statewide tourism rebound.
In 2021, 102 million visitors spent $25.2 billion in Virginia, according to a study released by the agency last fall, still
down from 2019’s pre-pandemic tourism spending of $29.1 billion. Spending grew across all sectors, however, driven by strong room demand and increases in prices of key commodities, especially in lodging and transportation.
A Southampton County native, McClenny previously ran the Virginia Film Office, a branch of the tourism agency, for more than two decades, bringing high-profile TV and movie projects, like Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” to the commonwealth. She received her bachelor’s degree in economics from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee.
In 2022, McClenny received the Chairman’s Award from Richmond Region Tourism for her work supporting the growth of Virginia’s tourism industry. She also serves on the board of Travel South USA, a destination marketing organization for the Southern United States.