State offering relief grants to destination marketing organizations
WanderLOVE Recovery Grant Program will award grants of up to $10,000 each
A new state relief program, the WanderLOVE Recovery Grant Program, will provide up to 50 grants of up to $10,000 apiece to destination marketing organizations (DMOs) across the commonwealth that have been heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday.
The program, which is being administered by the Virginia Tourism Corp., began taking applications Thursday. Applications will close on July 2 and awardees will be announced by July 15. Grants are open to any of Virginia’s 114 recognized DMOs. Funds must be used for recovery marketing and may be used for participating in Virginia Tourism Corp. co-ops, local advertising, out-of-state marketing and other allowable items.
WanderLOVE, a new summer tourism campaign created by the Virginia Tourism Corp., will provide travel inspiration for road trips, outdoor recreation, hidden gems, small towns and its signature LOVEworks program. Grant recipients will be equipped with creative assets and a toolkit to implement in their own marketing.
“The coronavirus pandemic had an immediate and devastating impact on our tourism industry,” Northam said in a statement. “When it is safe to resume travel, we want to equip Virginia destinations with the tools they need to support and promote the diverse communities that travelers love to visit. There will be a lot of demand for leisure travel, and the WanderLOVE Recovery Grants will help towns and cities across our commonwealth position themselves as an ideal getaway when visitors are ready to get back on the road.”
The Virginia Tourism Corp.’s traditional Marketing Leverage Program (MLP) grants will also open to all Virginia tourism industry partners in August.
“Tourism is an instant revenue generator for the commonwealth, and a major contributor to our economy,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “The pandemic has had catastrophic effects on tourism nationwide, and these grants will help get Virginia back on its feet as a premier travel destination.”
Visitors to Virginia spent more than $26 billion on tourism spending in 2018, contributing $1.8 billion to local and state tax revenue and supporting 235,000 jobs, according to the state government. Following the pandemic, Virginia’s lodging industry has been extremely heavy hit, with tens of thousands of employees laid off and furloughed and revenues down by more than 60% compared to last year.