Reporting Courtney Pomeroy
LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — Virginia has boasted that it is “for lovers” since that iconic ad campaign began in 1969, but the latest numbers show that lovers are flocking to the Commonwealth in record numbers these days.
Governor Bob McDonnell announced Wednesday that visitors to the state generated $21.2 billion in revenue from tourism in 2012, a four percent increase over 2011.
“Tourists from around the country and the world are being drawn to Virginia to walk in the footsteps of Lincoln, participate and learn from our ongoing Civil War Sesquicentennial events, visit our increasingly globally recognized vineyards and enjoy all that this great state has to offer from Atlantic Ocean beaches to Appalachian mountains,” McDonnell said.
Since taking office in 2010, McDonnell has been a proponent of growing the state’s tourism industry. Over the past three years, tourism funding has increased by over $5 million per year.
In 2011, the General Assembly passed legislation from McDonnell’s “Opportunity at Work” agenda that created the Tourism Development Grant Program. The program allows certain tourism projects to temporarily retain a portion of state and local tax revenue generated from the project to provide its own gap financing.
Certainly not a hindrance on the state’s tourism industry is its growing wine culture. Virginia was named one of the top 10 wine travel destinations in the world for 2012 by Wine Enthusiast magazine. The craft beer industry is also up and coming — the Commonwealth is home to more than 60 breweries.