Local groups receive tourism grants

Published 7:20 pm Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Communities in Western Hampton Roads will receive a share of $1.9 million in matching grants awarded to local tourism initiatives as part of a state-run tourism program. The funding is part of the Virginia Tourism Corp.’s Recovery Marketing Leverage Program. It’s intended to support tourism initiatives in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Ralph Northam’s office said in a Nov. 16 announcement.

Surry County’s “A Road Trip To Remember” initiative will receive $20,000. The Smithfield and Isle of Wight Convention and Visitors Bureau will receive $5,000 for its family trips to Smithfield and Isle of Wight program, and Franklin Southampton Economic Development will receive $3,500 for its “What a Day! in Franklin Southampton” program.

The coronavirus pandemic has had devastating effects on Virginia’s tourism and hospitality industries, the governor’s office said. Although visitors spent $27 billion in Virginia in 2019 — a 3.4% increase over 2018 — supporting 237,000 work opportunities and contributing $1.8 billion in state and local taxes, a major decline in tourism revenue is anticipated for 2020.

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The recovery marketing program is anticipated to benefit nearly 500 tourism entities statewide. Local organizations are expected to provide more than $5.6 million in kind value to match the state grants.

Grant applicants joined with two other organizations to apply for the state funding. Partners may include cities, towns, counties, convention and visitors’ bureaus, chambers of commerce, local or regional destination marketing organizations, private businesses, museums, attractions, cultural events and other tourism-related businesses.