Governor Youngkin announces tourism programs to boost economies across Virginia

(AP Photo/Steve Helber) (Steve Helber, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

RICHMOND, Va. – New programs are launching to boost economies in communities across Virginia, thanks to Governor Youngkin’s DRIVE 2.0 program.

On Monday, the Office of Governor Younkin announced that 27 Virginia communities launched new tourism programs to boost area economies, and at the end of implementation, the communities will also receive a $10,000 grant to assist with plan development.

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The release said that the programs were created through the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s DRIVE 2.0 State Tourism Plan Implementation Workshops, which launched when communities were trying to deal with the effects of the pandemic to provide materials, resources, and tools as they began recovery efforts.

“The completion of the DRIVE 2.0 workshops and the creation of more than 100 new tourism programs signal a new era in tourism development and marketing in the Commonwealth,” said Youngkin. Investing in new tourism product development, infrastructure and programs is a proven strategy for improving our economy by increasing jobs and tax revenue. This will lead to meaningful change for our communities across the Commonwealth, and further underscores Virginia’s reputation as the best place to live, work, and travel.”

The program focuses on the promotion of outdoor recreation and development, community support, and makes tourism a driver of community and economic wellness, according to the release.

The workshop process also provided participating communities with the necessary strategies to succeed in the travel and tourism market, the release said.

“Tourism is big business in Virginia, but we must continue to innovate and improve to remain successful against our competition,” said Caren Merrick, Secretary of Commerce and Trade. “The DRIVE 2.0 workshops have equipped Virginia communities with the tools needed to create best-in-class promotion strategies for new and original tourism products and programs. These initiatives will attract more travelers and visitor spending to the Commonwealth, and will help Virginians and visitors alike to discover for themselves why Virginia is for Lovers.”

The release said that DRIVE 2.0 was facilitated by VTC with a “hub and spoke” model, which groups regional lures and attractions around the main tourism hub, and participating communities came up with product development ideas totaling more than 100 new ideas and initiatives to enter the market.

The VTC and the communities participating in the DRIVE 2.0 workshops used data, trends, and other research to enhance their plans, according to the release, and they identified lodging and hotel development as a game-changing product development strategy, while trail development was found to be an accessible short-term strategy for attracting new travelers and boosting economic activity.

The groups also found that other main areas to focus on included entrepreneurial development, expanding restaurant and culinary options, and expanding lodging offers, the release said, and that promotional strategies focused heavily on the outdoors, history, and live music.

These are the communities in our area that have participated in and completed the DRIVE 2.0 program workshops, according to the release:

  • Alleghany Highlands
  • Floyd County
  • Giles County
  • Lexington-Rockbridge Area
  • Nelson County
  • Pulaski County
  • Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge

If you want to learn more about the DRIVE Tourism programs, visit the Virginia Tourism Corporation website.

About the Author

Alli Graham came aboard the digital team as an evening digital content producer in June 2022.

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