Virginia Beach revives resort office to bolster Oceanfront tourism
This summer, visitors to Virginia Beach’s resort area will be greeted by spruced-up properties, enhanced entertainment options and new tourism ambassadors.
These are just some of the city’s efforts to improve the 40-block commercial district through its restored Resort Management Office. City Council is allocating $1.1 million from its tourism tax fund to revive the office, which has been dormant for nearly three decades. The resurrected office will interact with visitors, promote safety, improve public events, address homelessness issues and encourage property owners to update awnings, signage and other infrastructure.
The previous resort management office was disbanded after refurbishment of the Atlantic Avenue corridor was completed in 1992. “Now it’s time for it to be restarted as we improve the quality of the product of the resort area for both visitors and residents,” says Brian Solis, assistant to the city manager for special projects.
Most of the funds will be used to launch a resort ambassador program of paid workers who will provide directions to tourists, reunite lost children with their parents, perform spot cleaning and graffiti abatement and enhance the city’s relationships with the business community.
“It will be almost like a concierge service in the outdoor space,” says Solis, who is setting up the Resort Management Office. “The ambassadors will help to create more orderly, tourist-friendly areas.”
Additionally, 15% of the funds will go toward upgrading the quality and quantity of entertainment options available in the resort area. The city also plans to tap into its general fund to hire two outreach coordinators to address homelessness. A new zoning inspector will make sure business façades are consistent and comply with city code.
Solis aims to have a permanent manager in place and the office operational by April 1.
The city also wants to ensure that the Atlantic Avenue corridor aligns with other planned improvements, including the $325 million Atlantic Park development, which is expected to come online in the next four to five years. Additionally, improvements to the 17th Street corridor are slated to begin in 2022. Expected to take four years to complete, the $26 million project will include widening the east end of Virginia Beach Boulevard from Cypress to Pacific avenues, upgrading utility infrastructure and installing new sidewalks and bicycle lanes. On Jan. 5, Virginia Beach City Council voted to ask the General Assembly to allow the city to create a tourism authority to further its efforts.