Tourism spending hits new record in the region

Every Va locality saw an increase in travel expenditures

ROANOKE – Last year was another record-breaking year for Virginia tourism.

The latest numbers show the tourism industry reached $25 billion in the commonwealth in 2017.

According to the Virginia Tourism Corporation, every locality in the state saw an increase in travel expenditures by an average of 4 percent.

Southwest Virginia made up more than $1 billion of the $25 billion total.

“We are so incredibly excited,” said Landon Howard, president of Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge.

Roanoke and the surrounding localities making up Virginia’s Blue Ridge region took in $850 million.

“Which means this is the eighth consecutive record year of growth for tourism in our region,” Howard said. In addition to setting another record for tourism’s economic impact, Virginia’s Blue Ridge is also expecting another recording breaking year for hotel room reservations.

The statistics show a drastic jump from the end of the recession in 2009. Howard said since then, Virginia’s Blue Ridge has expanded by $200 million.

The tourism industry is responsible for nearly 8,000 jobs in Virginia's Blue Ridge alone.

“It is becoming a vital industry for our region,” Howard said.

In addition to the $850 million in Virginia's Blue Ridge, the New River Valley pulled in nearly $279 million. Bedford County brought in $110 million.

That revenue translates to millions of dollars spent locally, supporting small business owners, hotels, restaurants and retailers.

In addition to businesses, Howard explained the average person will notice a difference as well.

Just last year Virginia's Blue Ridge collected $28 million in tax revenue from tourism spending.

“All of that goes to fund our school systems, our children's needs, public safety, roads, all the things that local government has the burden to pay for,” Howard said.

Howard said it’s $28 million in taxes the localities gained, but the citizens living there didn't have to pay.

“We are happy to have these people come in and enjoy their stay and deposit their millions of dollars in wonderful money and then head back home with fine experiences to talk about,” Howard said.

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