Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that the Rappahannock River communities of Lancaster and Middlesex Counties, the Town of Kilmarnock and Lancaster by the Bay Chamber of Commerce received $13,300 from the Virginia Tourism Corporation Marketing Leverage Program grant fund. In total VTC awarded more than $852,000 for 46 tourism marketing projects across the state to help increase visitation and revenue for Virginia’s localities through tourism.
The grants are designed to help local and regional tourism entities attract more visitors by leveraging local marketing dollars, and will ultimately impact at least 195 other statewide tourism entities. The local organizations match the state grant funds by a minimum of 2:1 in order to support marketing projects. This funding cycle, the local partners will match the VTC grant dollars with more than $2.1 million, providing more than $3 million in new marketing to increase visitation to Virginia.
These Rappahannock River partners received a $13,300 grant for its Regional Branding Project. This project will create a tourism brand and marketing plan for the lower Rappahannock River area. “This marketing effort targets bringing more visitors to the area to enjoy the river lifestyle, our history, the resurging oyster industry, our boating industry and our wonderful outdoor amenities” said Susan Cockrell, Kilmarnock’s Deputy Town Manager.
Kilmarnock partnered with Lancaster County and the Middlesex County Economic Development Authority as well as Lancaster by the Bay Chamber of Commerce to supply matching funds for the project. The Town of Kilmarnock will act as the fiscal agent.
“Our goal is to entice more visitors to come here, spend money and stay longer” said Chris Ingram, Tourism and Economic Development for Middlesex County. “We have great places to stay, dine and enjoy throughout the region and this grant will provide more opportunities to market our area to close in markets like Richmond, Northern Virginia, Southern Maryland and Hampton Roads”.
Early funds from this project created Virginia Oyster Country (www.vaoystercountry.com) where visitors can find all the local places to purchase oysters, great restaurants serving the region’s best oysters and exciting oyster roasts.
The new regional initiative will create a regional tourism website and marketing plan to reach consumers in a 2-3 hour drive market of the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula. The target for the launch is Q1 2015.
The VTC Marketing Leverage Program is designed to stimulate new tourism marketing through partnerships by leveraging limited marketing dollars, resulting in increased visitor spending. A minimum of three entities must partner financially to apply and may consist of Virginia towns, cities, counties, convention and visitors bureaus, chambers of commerce, other local or regional destination marketing organizations, private businesses, museums, attractions, cultural events, and other not-for-profit entities.
“These grants equip local tourism businesses with the tools they need to stay competitive,” said Governor McAuliffe. “The Marketing Leverage Program grants help support and grow a robust and diversified New Virginia Economy and encourage strategic marketing of tourism products and businesses across the Commonwealth, generating revenue and jobs.”
“The grants are supporting businesses across the Commonwealth, contributing to the overall economic health of our communities,” said Maurice Jones, Secretary of Commerce and Trade. “The state’s investment maximizes local marketing funds, allowing for localities to double and sometimes triple their marketing power to attract more visitors. This is a powerful tool for small businesses across the state.”
Tourism is an instant revenue generator for Virginia. In 2013, tourism generated $21.5 billion in revenue, supported 213,000 jobs and provided $1.42 billion in state and local taxes. Dollars invested in tourism are proven to provide a 5:1 return in tax revenue for Virginia, and the grant awards and matching funds provide a stimulus to localities seeking to increase tourism visitation and revenue.
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