Virginia visitor spending topped $30 billion last year, bouncing back from pandemic

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Virginia’s tourism industry appears to be bouncing back from the pandemic.

Visitors spent $30.3 billion in the state in 2022, an increase of 20.3% from 2021, according to a Tuesday news release from Gov. Glenn Youngkin and the Virginia Tourism Corporation. That figure even exceeded pre-pandemic levels in 2019 by 4.4%.

“Reviving our tourism industry was a crucial goal to our economic recovery, and our focused efforts on employment and business growth has proven to be successful for the Commonwealth,” Youngkin said in a statement.

Travelers spent $83 million per day in Virginia in 2022, up from $69 million in 2021, the release states. It further reported that visitors in 2022 drove nearly $2.2 billion in state and local tax revenues, up from $1.8 billion in 2021.

The American Rescue Plan Act provided funding for additional tourism marketing, which allowed Virginia to advertise in new markets and reach about 15 million more households in 2022.

“By reaching more travelers in new markets, Virginia continues to raise awareness and consideration as a premier travel destination,” Rita McClenny, the corporation’s president and CEO, said in the release. “This awareness results in increased bookings and arrivals, which, in turn, translates to increased visitor spending across the state.”

The Virginia Tourism Corporation received $50 million in ARPA funding, which was distributed to 133 Virginia counties and cities to help tourism marketing efforts. The allocations were based off of how much local tourism tax revenues contributed to the state’s total tourism revenues in 2019. Hampton Roads cities that received the largest allocations include Virginia Beach with $1.9 million, Norfolk with $850,000 and Williamsburg with $670,000.

The Virginia Beach Oceanfront is a mecca for tourists. Keeping it open is a never-ending job.

Jobs in the tourism sector are increasing but haven’t yet caught up to pre-pandemic levels.

The release states there were about 210,721 tourism-supported jobs in 2022, which is up by about 25,000 from 2021, but still down by about 30,000 from 2019.

Virginia Tourism Corporation receives its annual economic impact data from Tourism Economics, in partnership with the U.S. Travel Association.

Katie King,