Va. tourism had record 2019, but 2020 won’t follow suit
Va. Tourism Corp. projects tourism revenue expected to drop by $10B this year
The 2020 coronavirus pandemic and economic crisis is spelling an end to Virginia’s decade-long streak of record-breaking tourism revenues.
Although Virginia’s tourism industry had another record year in 2019, posting $27 billion in spending, the commonwealth’s tourism revenue for 2020 is expected to decrease by $10 billion, a 37% drop compared to last year, according to the Virginia Tourism Corp.
“The coronavirus pandemic put the travel and tourism industry in crisis, and imposed a devastating strain on Virginia’s hotels, restaurants, attractions and communities,” says Virginia Tourism Corp. Director of Communications Caroline Logan. “As a result, and, unsurprisingly, early numbers for 2020 project a sharp decrease in tourism spending.”
In 2019, tourism in the commonwealth supported 237,000 jobs (a 0.9% increase from 2018) and generated $1.8 billion in state and local revenue (a 3.9% increase from 2018). Virginia ranked No. 8 in the nation last year for domestic travel spending, according to the Virginia Tourism Corp. Virginia’s tourism industry has set year-over-year revenue records since at least 2011, when the commonwealth’s annual tourism spending revenues first topped $20 billion.
“Travel and tourism play an indispensable role in our economy, and 2019 year was another impressive growth year for Virginia,” Gov. Ralph Northam said in a statement. “While we celebrate this record-breaking success, we must also acknowledge the immediate and damaging impacts of the pandemic on tourism, which will be reflected in the numbers next year. We know that a revived tourism industry will be crucial to our overall economic recovery and we remain committed to helping it bounce back and emerge from this crisis even stronger.”
Through the week ending Oct. 3, travel spending loss in Virginia was reported to be $9.4 billion and there was a $436 million loss in total state and local tax revenues, says Logan.
“In the month of September alone, a loss of $894 million in travel spending was recorded when compared to same time last year,” says Logan.
Travelers spent $73 million per day in Virginia last year and the commonwealth’s travel industry has reported continued growth 10 years in a row.
“The Virginia is for Lovers brand is highly recognizable and will be vitally important to bringing back travelers who have retreated due to the health crisis,” Virginia Tourism Corp. President and CEO Rita McClenny said in a statement. “I truly believe that it is travel that will help us move forward again as a commonwealth and as a country when this pandemic has passed. But we must give this industry the tools they need to survive now in order to come out on the other side. Virginia Tourism and the power of the Virginia is for Lovers brand can help do that. And we must.”
The Virginia Tourism Corp. has taken a variety of marketing approaches during the pandemic including the “We’ll Be Waiting for You,” and “WanderLove” campaigns. Northam has also awarded more than $866,000 in grants to 90 destination marketing organizations through the WanderLove Recovery Grant Program that launched in June.