According to a newly released Economic Impact Study from the Virginia Tourism Corporation, in 2019 the Eastern Shore of Virginia was the fastest growing region in the Commonwealth in visitor spending, state tax receipts, and local tax receipts over 2018. Visitor spending on the Eastern Shore of Virginia reached over $307 million, a 5 percent increase over 2018. Local tourism-supported jobs totaled 3,060 and supported $65 million in payroll. Local tourism-related tax receipts totaled $22,682,849 in 2019, a 5.7 percent increase over 2018.
“It’s exciting news to hear how our regional marketing approach is paying off. We understand that continuing to promote the Shore as one whole destination gives visitors endless adventures to explore, experience, and taste and keeps them coming back year after year,” states Robie Marsh, Executive Director of the Eastern Shore of Virginia Tourism Commission. “We all win when we all work together in cross-promotional efforts.”
There is no better example of the benefits of an annually returning visitor than in 2020. The Coronavirus has impacted the nation and the Eastern Shore of Virginia’s wonderful small businesses exponentially. Marsh states, “feedback from our industry partners tell us that while the impact of the shutdown has been devastating, visitors in 2020 came back in full force when it was safe to do so. The Shore allows for social distancing naturally in a safe, fun, and relaxing manor.”
The coronavirus pandemic put the Virginia travel and tourism industry in crisis, and imposed a devastating strain on Virginia’s hotels, restaurants, attractions, and communities. The pandemic caused decreased revenue and a reduced workforce, while some businesses have been forced to shutter temporarily if not completely. As a result, early numbers for 2020 project a sharp decrease in tourism spending for the first half of the year.
As the Commonwealth continues to grapple with the impact of COVID-19, the pandemic has further emphasized the stark contrast in 2019 and 2020 and that statewide economic revival cannot occur without the recovery of the travel industry. “It has been and continues to be our mission at the commission to support our community, help get them back on their feet, and promote, promote, promote,” states Marsh
The Eastern Shore of Virginia Tourism Commission has launched several advertising efforts including social media advertising which has received over a million impressions since July, as well as a Travel Guide insert into the Virginia Pilot, a radio ad on 94.9 The Point, and the recent development of the WanderLOVE campaign created from a grant received from Virginia Tourism Corporation.
The commission began inserting billboards along Route 13 in late 2019 which has become a commodity in the wake of the pandemic as road trip travel has increased in 2020.
While the coronavirus has had a significant impact on Virginia’s tourism economy, the industry remains hopeful for a robust return to 2019 numbers in the future. Tourism will be key to economic recovery as the pandemic stabilizes and leisure and business travel resumes. As Americans begin to travel again, the Eastern Shore of Virginia Tourism Commission intends to help restore the tourism economy into the economic engine it always has been.