Published Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022, 12:13 pm
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The Shenandoah Valley tourism industry experienced a 25.6 percent decrease in spending in 2020 due to the crippling effects of the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is according to recently released US Travel and Virginia Tourism Corporation data, which showed a dropoff in tourism spending in the Valley from a record-breaking 2019, which registered more than $1.25 billion in direct tourism spending across the 14 communities that make up the Shenandoah Valley.
The big step back to $997.8 million in 2020 represents just under a million dollars a day in spending on such things as lodging, restaurants, attractions, local shops and gas.
Local tourism offices have been fighting back.
- Shenandoah County Tourism decided to launch a campaign telling potential visitors to support their own local businesses but when the time is right to return to travel, Shenandoah County would be there ready to serve them again. As interest in travel started to resume, they transitioned to a new marketing campaign, “Find Your Way Back” which was successful in driving visitation to the area.
- Discover Front Royal developed the “Back to Business. Back to Nature.” initiative focused on supporting local businesses rather than big box and or chains, held an influencers event and closed off their Main Street to allow outdoor dining and music events.
- Discover Winchester created two in-house videos featuring local restaurant owners thanking the local community for supporting them, a “Dreaming of Winchester” video to encourage future travel, and created “Open and Safe” posters for local businesses to display.
Virginia Tourism, best known for its Virginia is for Lovers branding, immediately began creating local-focused campaign support and several state initiatives encouraging people to still dream of travel and get excited for when it was safe to travel again.
VTC’s Wanderlove campaign is one of these success stories to encourage travelers to begin travel again when they feel safe, and to embrace the outdoors and small towns.
The Shenandoah Valley benefitted from numerous aspects of this campaign, including several videos which can be found here: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLmotV6htRiSy7hVygZStalRpODvN3kA-j
“The coronavirus pandemic put the travel and tourism industry in crisis, imposing a devastating strain on Virginia’s hotels, restaurants, attractions, and communities,” said Rita McClenny, president and CEO of Virginia Tourism Corporation. “Even in the face of unprecedented adversity, Virginia’s tourism industry demonstrated unwavering tenacity, thinking outside the box in creative and innovative ways in order to keep Virginia’s economies moving forward and our communities resilient.
“The 2020 economic impact numbers only underscore the important correlation between tourism and economic growth. As we look ahead to recovery, Virginia’s tourism industry will continue to play a crucial role in rebuilding our economy, creating jobs, and making the Commonwealth the best place to live, work, and visit.”
More information on the Shenandoah Valley’s destination marketing efforts can be found at shenandoahvalley.org.
The Shenandoah Valley Tourism Partnership is a collaborative destination marketing effort led by tourism officials in the 14 communities of Augusta County, Buena Vista, Clarke County, Frederick County, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Page County, Rockbridge County, Rockingham County, Shenandoah County, Staunton, Warren County, Waynesboro and Winchester