McAuliffe: Virginia tourism revenue rises to $21.5 billion in 2013, sets record high



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RICHMOND, Virginia — Virginia is once again celebrating a record high for tourism across the state.

Tourism revenue rose to $21.5 billion in 2013, representing $59 million in spending per day, Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced Tuesday.

While that's only a modest 1.4 percent increase over the previous year, the state's tourism revenue has grown more than 43 percent since 2004. And Virginia investments in tourism also continue to bear fruit, generating $5 in state and local taxes for every dollar spent by the state in the industry, officials said.

The latest figures show the tourism industry also supported 213,000 jobs, comprising 7 percent of the state's total private employment. The industry also provided more than $1.42 billion in state and local taxes in 2013, although some areas saw declines in tourism spending last year. A majority of tourism spending in Virginia last year was for food service, followed by auto transportation and lodging.

McAuliffe said tourism is an important industry that will continue to fuel the "New Virginia Economy," a plan to focus state efforts on diversify its economy to be less dependent on federal government-related jobs and targeting high-growth sectors like advanced manufacturing and cyber security by bulking up Virginia's infrastructure and boosting workforce development.

"Virginia is a uniquely attractive destination for visitors, offering a wide array of travel choices," Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones said in a written statement. "While Virginia presents an exciting experience for visitors, the tourism industry offers solid, good-paying jobs for our citizens and contributes billions to our economy."

The Virginia Tourism Corporation, a state agency responsible for marketing the state as a tourism destination, is working to drive continued and future tourism by promoting unique cities and towns, outdoor recreation, historic and culinary experiences as well as highlighting arts, music and sporting attractions. An emphasis also is being placed on attracting industry conventions, tournaments and other events.


Michael Felberbaum can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/MLFelberbaum.

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