More than $1.9M in grants going to Va.’s tourism industry
161 local tourism initiatives will receive funding
While COVID-19 continues to slam the tourism and hospitality industries, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Monday that more than $1.9 million in matching grants will be disbursed among 161 local tourism initiatives as part of Virginia Tourism Corp.’s Recovery Marketing Leverage Program (RMLP).
Although Virginia’s tourism industry had another record year in 2019, posting $27 billion in spending, the commonwealth’s tourism revenue for 2020 is expected to decrease by $10 billion, a 37% drop compared to last year, according to mid-October reports from the Virginia Tourism Corp. — ending a 10-year streak of record-breaking tourism revenues. Virginia Tourism Corp. revised its traditional Marketing Leverage Program to create RMLP to support tourism initiatives responding to COVID-19’s economic impact.
The program is open to all Virginia tourism industry partners and aims to help local and regional tourism programs through local in-kind matches of state grant funds. During this cycle, local partners will contribute more than $5.6 million in-kind value to match the grants, ultimately helping 483 statewide tourism entities.
“In Virginia, the travel and tourism industries are the backbone of our communities and our economy, and they have been among those hardest hit by the pandemic,” Northam said in a statement. “This program will give localities and businesses access to much-needed marketing resources to sustain their operations and ensure the commonwealth’s many attractions are safe for visitors.”
Grants ranged in value from $1,750 to $20,000 for marketing programs across the state. A full list of recipients can be viewed on Virginia Tourism Corp.’s website. Recipients include Virginia 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.
“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has upended the tourism industry, which is one of Virginia’s largest sectors,” Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball said in a statement. “RMLP will inject dollars in every region of the commonwealth and help the development of new tourism product while getting communities back on their feet.”