Surry County receives tourism grant funding

Published 5:17 pm Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Surry County recently announced a grant award of $10,000 from the Virginia Tourism Corporation as a selected participant in the DRIVE 2.0 Program.

DRIVE 2.0 is a statewide tourism plan that focuses on tourism promotion, product development and advocacy. The program, developed by VTC, created strategies to help make the tourism industry more robust and sustainable during this period of economic recovery resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Surry County was selected to participate in the DRIVE 2.0 Program in September 2021 and moved through the process, facilitated by VTC staff, of gathering information through a community-wide survey, expanding on that information through a community consensus meeting with stakeholders, and finally submitting a grant application in December 2021. The grant submission identified wayfinding and directional signage as an idea that would have substantial impact on existing tourism marketing efforts.

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During the consensus meeting, attendees identified the need for directional signage to make visitors to Surry County more aware of existing opportunities and attractions. Therefore, the county plans for the entirety of the $10,000 grant award to be used to conduct a feasibility (architectural and engineering) study to determine design, placement and phasing in of tourism wayfinding signage.

“Our team believes that wayfinding signage would be effective to attract more guests to many of our existing attractions. The fact that many guests don’t know where or how to find attractions and activities in Surry is rather significant,” said Pat Bernshausen, tourism coordinator. “We know that GPS diverts guests coming across the ferry to the back roads to reach locations at the southern end of Surry County rather than guiding them through the Town of Surry where they will have access to most of our businesses and restaurants.”

“The DRIVE 2.0 Program has given Surry County a chance to fill a void that stakeholders have identified as a major need for our businesses and attractions,” said Yoti Jabri, economic development director. “Surry County is rich in historic, cultural and recreational opportunities, and we realize the economic benefit of marketing through the wayfinding program. A well-crafted wayfinding program provides opportunities to educate and inspire the traveling public and promote visitation to our county. I thank VTC and participating stakeholders who have guided us in obtaining this grant.”