Winchester-Frederick County’s tourism revenues reached $260.3 million, marking a 43% recovery from 2020
According to economic impact figures released on Tuesday by the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC), direct visitor spending in the combined communities of Winchester and Frederick County surpassed $260 million for the first time ever in 2021. This represents a 43% increase in spending from the pandemic-impacted 2020, and a 4% increase over pre-pandemic numbers (2019).
“Our destination benefited from many factors to experience this impressive recovery,” said Justin Kerns, Executive Director for the Winchester-Frederick County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We have outstanding outdoor and small-town experiences, both of which are in high demand, and because of our aggressive Uncommon to the Core marketing campaign we have stayed top of mind for travelers throughout the pandemic and recovery.”
In addition, the local tourism industry supported 2,272 jobs and $72.7 million in worker paychecks in Winchester and Frederick County. Combined with the $11 million in local taxes that visitors contributed to the City and County coffers, the tourism industry continues to be a significant and growing part of the local economy.
State-wide, VTC announced that travelers to Virginia spent $69 million a day in 2021, up from $48 million in 2020. Virginia’s tourism revenues also reached $25.2 billion in 2021, marking an 87% recovery to pre-pandemic spending in 2019. This spending supported 185,000 jobs, $7.1 billion in salaries and wages, and $1.8 billion in state and local taxes. 80 of Virginia’s 133 localities fully recovered to 2019 levels of spending and many grew even further. Specifically, Coastal Virginia, Shenandoah Valley, and the Blue Ridge Highlands regions contributed most significantly to the overall recovery in the Commonwealth.
“Tourism has seen an incredible comeback thanks to the hardworking leaders in the travel and tourism industry across Virginia,” said Rita McClenny, President and CEO of Virginia Tourism Corporation. “As travelers continue to visit communities across the state, Virginia is on pace to restore the tourism industry into the vibrant and highly performing economic engine it always has been. We look forward to an even stronger recovery in 2022.”
Key Industry Performance
Virginia’s tourism and travel industry is comprised of a variety of sectors which contribute to its economic vitality, employment, and tax revenue. Among key travel industries impacted, Virginia’s food and beverage industry has the largest share of tourism dollars, accounting for $7.2 billion or 29% of spending. In 2021, food and beverage spending recovered to 92% of 2019 levels. Other key performance indicators across the industry include:
- Transportation (28% of visitor spending): Although transportation spending increased by 52% in 2021, with the slow return of air travel, the transportation share of spending has only recovered to 78% of 2019 levels.
- Lodging (19% of visitor spending): Lodging spending grew by 48% in 2021, reaching 87% of 2019 levels.
- Recreation (13% of visitor spending): Recreation grew by 46% in 2021, returning to 94% of 2019 levels and represents the industry closest to full recovery.
- Retail (12% of visitor spending): Retail has returned to 90% of 2019 levels.
Looking Ahead: 2022 and Beyond
With the additional marketing dollars that came through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, Virginia and its localities should continue to see growth in visitor spending. Virginia Tourism, specifically, utilized recovery grant funds to advertise in new markets and reached nearly 15 million more households in 2022 relative to 2021. By reaching more travelers, Virginia continues to raise awareness and consideration as a premier travel destination, resulting in increased bookings and arrivals, which translates to increased visitor spending across the state