Statewide visitor spending reached $25 billion
WAYNESBORO – According to an economic impact analysis produced by the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC), in partnership with Tourism Economics, direct visitor spending for the City of Waynesboro reached $66.9 million in 2021. This represents a 41.6% increase over 2020 and an impressive 10.4% increase over 2019, making 2021 a significant year of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic for the City. The local tourism industry supported 731 jobs, while state and local tourism-related tax revenue totaled $5.3 million.
According to the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC), tourism in Virginia generated $25.2 billion in visitor spending 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.”
COVID-19 pandemic imposed a devastating strain on Virginia’s hotels, restaurants, attractions, and communities. The pandemic caused decreased revenue and a reduced workforce, and some businesses were forced to close completely. The Commonwealth continues to grapple with the negative effects, including workforce challenges in travel and tourism businesses. Although visitor spending in Waynesboro has fully recovered and outpaced 2019 levels, employment in the hospitality industry has not recovered, and still lags more than 9% when comparing 2021 to 2019.
While it is clear the devastating impact the pandemic had on Virginia’s tourism economy in 2020, the industry experienced a robust return overall in 2021. Tourism will be key to economic recovery as the world continues to adjust, and leisure and business travel resumes. As Americans and international travelers become increasingly eager to travel and explore, Waynesboro intends to leverage its budding tourism industry to support local economic recovery and growth.
“Our beautiful setting, great location, and fantastic amenities made Waynesboro and the entire Shenandoah Valley a haven for travelers from more urban areas in the midst of the pandemic,” says Jennifer Kiser, Tourism and Marketing Manager for the City of Waynesboro. “The opening of new dining establishments, shops, and recreational opportunities throughout the pandemic shows resilience in our community and positive momentum in our local tourism industry.”