Smithfield, Surry receive tourism grants

Published 6:37 pm Tuesday, May 17, 2022

The Virginia Tourism Corporation has awarded more than $2.7 million for 259 local and regional tourism efforts across the state, including two grants to Smithfield and Isle of Wight County’s shared tourism department, and another two for Surry County.

Smithfield and Isle of Wight’s Convention and Visitors Bureau received a $10,000 grant for its “Check In & Check Us Out” bridal concierge campaign.

The campaign entails with local wedding-related businesses and attractions to promote overnight “familiarization tours” of area wedding vendors, venues, event planners, caterers and florists. Local lodgers will offer special packages enticing engaged couples to visit Smithfield with their family and/or friends for the weekend or an overnight stay.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The CVB also received a $20,000 grant for its “Town & Country” campaign. A portion of the funds will be used for new photography and videography. The campaign is intended to highlight Smithfield and Isle of Wight County as a thriving historic downtown nestled in a rural setting. The campaign entails promoting local businesses and atrractions that illustrate this theme as a means of increasing overnight visitation.

Both campaigns will launch in late spring.

“Smithfield and Isle of Wight Tourism is thrilled to receive from VTC, both the DMO Marketing Recovery Grant and the Marketing Leverage Program awards,” said Judy Winslow, Director of Smithfield and Isle of Wight County CVB. “These grants will assist with driving additional overnight visitation that adds tremendously to our localities bottom line as well as the many businesses that depend on visitor spending. We are grateful to the Virginia Tourism Corporation for seeing the value in both our Town & Country and Bridal Concierge Service initiatives. Overnight visitors spend more time AND money in an area making it a “win-win” for locals and tourists alike.”

Surry received a $20,000 grant for its “Everything Old is New Again” campaign, which will focus on the county’s blend of history and outdoor activities, intended to drive thousands of new potential guests to the county’s newly-designed tourism website launched earlier this year.

Grant partners included Chippokes Plantation State Park, Preservation Virginia – which operates Smith’s Fort and bacon’s Castle – and Hampton Roads Winery.

“Tourism in Surry has always blended our rich history, connection with the Jamestown settlement, and historic properties – the ‘old’ – with outdoor experiences and our family-friendly environment,” explained Pat Bernshausen, Surry County Tourism Coordinator. “This campaign will continue to build on our brand but will introduce potential guests to the ‘new’ look of our visually appealing and user-friendly tourism website and soon to be launched trip planning tools.”

A second grant in the amount of $5,000 was awarded to Surry County for the creation of a LOVEwork installation on county property within the town of Surry. Partners in this grant are Chippokes Plantation State Park and Bacon’s Castle Plantation.

“We all know “Virginia is for Lovers” and we wanted to extend that warm welcome to visitors coming to Surry County,” stated Yoti Jabri, Surry County Economic Development Director. “This Virginia Tourism Corporation grant will give us much needed support in completing our LOVEworks sign here in the Town of Surry. The design of our LOVEworks was chosen by interested citizens through a short survey. Each LOVE letter will represent something that Surry County has to offer. I want to thank the Virginia Tourism Corporation, once again, for supporting our tourism efforts.”

“These grant funds provide an important opportunity for communities across the Commonwealth to accelerate recovery efforts and continue with their best-in-class marketing initiatives to attract new travelers,” said Rita McClenny, president and CEO of Virginia Tourism. “Increased visitation translates directly into revenue generation, underscoring tourism’s important role in stimulating economic growth and expansion”

The VTC Marketing Leverage Program is designed to increase visitor spending by leveraging limited marketing dollars, stimulating new tourism marketing through partnerships, and extending the “Virginia is for Lovers” brand. A minimum of three Virginia entities must partner financially to apply for a grant. Partners may consist of Virginia cities, towns, counties, convention and visitors bureaus, chambers of commerce, other local or regional destination marketing organizations, private businesses, museums, attractions, cultural events, and other tourism-related businesses.

The aim is to help destination marketing organizations drive overnight visitation and to supplement funding for economically significant special events and festivals. The destination marketing organization funding is projected to drive more than 125,000 room nights over the next 18 months.