Their Take: Boosting Tourism May Help Virginia’s Economic Recovery | Editorials


Music fans walk down State Street on Saturday afternoon during the 2021 Rhythm & Roots Reunion weekend.

David Crigger / Bristol Herald mail folder

The Editorial Board of Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk) and (Newport News) Daily Press

Virginia’s tourism industry urgently needs help recovering from the blow it suffered during the long months of the COVID pandemic. And because tourism is a vital part of the state’s economy, efforts to attract large numbers of people to our beaches, historic sites and other destinations will also be a critical part of the overall economic recovery. of State.

It starts with the thoughtful use of $ 50 million in federal COVID relief funding by Virginia Tourism Corp., the state agency whose job it is to support and develop tourism and hospitality.

Governor Ralph Northam proposed, and the General Assembly approved, this shipment, which is a good first step. Now society must act quickly and decisively to put this money at the service of tourism.

Estimates over the summer were that Virginia had lost at least $ 14.5 billion in tourism and travel revenue since the pandemic struck in the spring of 2021.

The pandemic has put many people in the tourism industry out of work. Earlier this year, Rita McClenny, president of Virginia Tourism Corp., told lawmakers that tourism and hospitality businesses employ about 10% of the state’s workers, but about 45% of jobs have been lost during the pandemic.

The company will allocate $ 30 million in funds to counties and independent cities in the state, which will be distributed to 114 organizations that manage the marketing of tourist destinations. The money will help organizations rebuild their marketing programs and expand their efforts to attract visitors from new regions.

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