Virginia had developed a new grant program that allows for up to $10,000 in tourism marketing funds to be distributed to localities heavily affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. All funds must be used for recovery marketing and may be used for “participating in the Virginia Tourism Corporation co-ops, local advertising, out-of-state marketing, and other allowable items”.
“The Coronavirus pandemic had an immediate and devastating impact on our tourism industry.” said Governor Ralph Northam. “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 a ideal getaway when visitors are to get back on the road.”
An independent research study shows that individuals are ready for travel and estimates that 70% of Americans will plan at least one leisure trip before the end of the year. The grant program is a direct response to this research that indicates that travelers will be “seeking safe, close-to-home destinations that allow for social distancing and have access to open spaces like beaches, outdoor recreation, and rural experiences”.
Mecklenburg County Tourism received $10,000 from the WanderLove Recovery Grant. Coordinator Tina Morgan says, “This opportunity comes at a time when the tourism industry is having to be very creative. Travel research shows that people are more willing to take road trips and explore small town America than to travel far and abroad to big cities. That is the perfect opportunity for Mecklenburg County. Not only are we an ideal outdoor recreation destination, we have so much to offer in our small towns and I am so excited to launch this campaign to help us get discovered in new and exciting ways”
South Hill Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Shannon Lambert says that organization is very happy to receive a $5000 grant through this program. “These funds will provide us with the capability to better serve our business members by promoting tourism and commerce in the South Hill region. Our businesses are the lifeblood of commerce in our community, and the South Hill Chamber of Commerce is committed to our mission of providing leadership for regional business development, and positively influencing the quality of life for our community.”
Tourism is one of the largest sectors of Virginia’s economy. In 2018, Mecklenburg County visitors spent more than $144 million supporting over 1400 work opportunities and contributing over $6 million in local and state tax revenue.