Governor Youngkin has announced the launch of some new tourism programs set to launch in 27 Virginia counties, with the aim to give a boost to local economies.
These programs and plans were developed through Virginia Tourism Corporation’s (VTC) DRIVE 2.0 State Tourism Plan Implementation Workshops, where community stakeholders focus on developing or enhancing tourism promotion, product development, and advocacy strategies, including specific action steps, success factors, timelines, and priorities for implementation.
At the end of implementation, communities also receive a $10,000 grant to assist with further developing these plans. The implementation process provided an important opportunity for a variety of community stakeholders to come together with the common goal of growing tourism in their area. More than 1200 community and business leaders across the state participated in the DRIVE 2.0 program and workshops.
“The completion of the DRIVE 2.0 workshops and the creation of more than 100 new tourism programs signal a new era in tourism development and marketing in the Commonwealth.”
“Investing in new tourism product development, infrastructure and programs is a proven strategy for improving our economy by increasing jobs and tax revenue. This will lead to meaningful change for our communities across the Commonwealth, and further underscores Virginia’s reputation as the best place to live, work, and travel,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin.
“Tourism is big business in Virginia, but we must continue to innovate and improve to remain successful against our competition,” said Caren Merrick, Secretary of Commerce and Trade.
“The DRIVE 2.0 workshops have equipped Virginia communities with the tools needed to create best-in-class promotion strategies for new and original tourism products and programs. These initiatives will attract more travelers and visitor spending to the Commonwealth, and will help Virginians and visitors alike to discover for themselves why Virginia is for Lovers.”
The DRIVE 2.0 program launched at an important time for the tourism industry, as communities sought out strategies to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. DRIVE 2.0 materials provided an important resource and tool for the communities as they began recovery efforts, with a focus on the promotion of outdoor recreation and development, community support, and making the case for tourism as a driver of community and economic wellness.
The DRIVE 2.0 process, facilitated by VTC, provides communities across the state with the strategies needed to succeed in the overly competitive travel and tourism market. Utilizing VTC’s “hub and spoke” model, which groups regional lures and attractions around the main tourism hub, participating communities developed enhanced or new tourism product development ideas totaling more than 100 new ideas and initiatives to enter the market. VTC and the participating communities utilized current data, trends, and research to inform their plans.
Localities identified lodging and hotel development as a game-changing product development strategy, while trail development was found to be an accessible short-term strategy for attracting new travelers and boosting economic activity. Other areas of focus included entrepreneurial development, expanding restaurant and culinary options, and expanding lodging offers. Promotional strategies focused heavily on the outdoors, history, and live music.
Youngkin’s focus of building up, no only Virginia’s economy as a whole, but building up many of the smaller communities as well must be commended. By offering smaller counties to grow and prosper, Virginia as a whole can grow together.
The full list of counties that have launched their programs can be found in the announcement, which can be found here. You can also learn more information about DRIVE Tourism, by visiting http://www.vatc.org/drive2