The Eastern Shore Tourism Commission has received $10,000 from the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) DMO WanderLove Recovery Grant Program, a new grant made available to Virginia’s Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) across the Commonwealth that have been heavily impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic to fund recovery marketing initiatives. $866,504 in marketing grant funds were awarded to 90 Destination Marketing Organizations as part of the DMO WanderLove Recovery Grant program.
The commission will use the VTC WanderLove grant funds to create and market six various themed trails. This will include bike and hike, outdoor education, ecotour, beach, sunrise and sunset, and seafood themed trails. Each trail will be made up of various destinations along Virginia’s Eastern Shore encouraging visitors to explore the entire peninsula.
A printed rack card will be created for each trail showcasing a map for visitors to easily find themed destinations and list each destination. Blog posts will be created to expand on the information on the rack cards, describing each destination. These blogs will be shared on social media and linked on the Eastern Shore of Virginia’s tourism website, visitesva.com.
Lastly, six short films will be created for each themed trail, showcasing included destinations. Each video will be 30 seconds or less to be social media friendly.
Each themed trail has been chosen to encourage travelers to enjoy the Eastern Shore of Virginia’s nature and promote outdoor activities where social distancing is easy to accomplish in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 while simultaneously encouraging tourism to the area.
“The big trend in travel right now is road trips,” Susannah Morey, the commission’s Marketing Director states. “Our WanderLOVE campaign will encourage travelers hitting the road this year to make some safe stops on Virginia’s Eastern Shore and bring them off of Route 13 into natural areas and small businesses in our one-of-a kind coastal towns.”
“We have a very unique aspect to contribute to Virginia tourism, our nature.” States Robie Marsh, the Eastern Shore Tourism Commission’s Executive Director. “Our nature allows social distancing to happen naturally. Families can enjoy nature trails, beaches, ecotours, and more with ease knowing they’re outside, getting fresh air, and have plenty of space from those they may not know.”
This campaign will encourage social distancing and wearing masks in congruence with Governor Northam’s executive actions.
As Virginia begins reopening, there is a lot of pent-up demand for leisure travel and people are seeking safe, close-to-home destinations that allow for social distancing and access to open spaces. With this in mind, the WanderLove campaign provides travel inspiration for road trips, outdoor recreation, hidden gems, small towns, and Virginia’s signature LOVEworks program.
“Virginia tourism is a critical sector of our economy and has been heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “Getting travelers back on the road and spending money in our cities and towns is one of the fastest ways to inject dollars back into our economy and our communities. The Virginia Tourism Corporation’s DMO WanderLove Recovery Grants gives localities the ability to market their destination as safe and welcoming when visitors are ready to resume travel.”
Tourism is one of the Commonwealth’s largest economic engines, with visitors to Virginia’s Eastern Shore spending more than $292.3 million in 2018, supporting 3,030 work opportunities and contributing $21.46 million in local and state tax revenue. The tourism and hospitality industries have also been among the hardest-hit by the pandemic, experiencing decreased revenue and job loss, along with the temporary closure of many tourism-related businesses. A revived tourism economy can help spur new economic activity and inject critical funds back into Virginia communities.