Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: October 23, 2019
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Alenaa Yarmosky, | Virginia Tourism Corporation: Christi Braginton,, (505) 500-7396

Governor Northam Announces International Tourism to Virginia Reaches Record Level

Growth exceeds national average for second year in a row

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Virginia’s international tourism visitation surpassed 1.1 million in 2018, with overseas visitors spending a record $2 billion. Since 2009, Virginia has witnessed a 22 percent increase in international visitation, welcoming an additional 200,000 visitors to the Commonwealth. Between 2017 and 2018 alone, Virginia saw a 5 percent increase, exceeding the national rate of 3.2 percent, based on data from Tourism Economics.

“Virginia’s doors are open, and we are welcoming record numbers of visitors from around the world,” said Governor Northam. “International visitors play an important role in building and maintaining our strong economy by shopping at our local businesses, dining at our restaurants, and taking in our world-class attractions. It is these diverse tourism assets that make Virginia a premier destination for global travelers and drive economic prosperity and job creation throughout our Commonwealth.”

Virginia draws on a diverse geography of international travelers with almost half coming from Canada, 29 percent from Europe, and 17 percent from the Asia Pacific Region. While the Canadian and European markets currently represent the majority of international travelers to Virginia, the Asia Pacific Region will play a key role in the future, forecasted to increase to 20 percent of the Commonwealth’s international visitation by 2028.

“International visitors inject dollars directly into our communities,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “Tourism also acts as a bridge to trade and economic opportunities, fueling further industry and growth in Virginia.”

The rise in overseas visitation has been robust in the majority of Virginia Tourism’s target markets, including the United Kingdom, Germany, India, Japan, and Australia, made possible in part by the increasing number of non-stop flights from destinations around the globe to Dulles International Airport located in Chantilly, Virginia. Total international visits to Virginia are forecast to grow to 1.5 million in the next 10 years.

“Love is at the heart of every vacation. That’s one reason our brand resonates so well—even across continents,” said Rita McClenny, President and CEO of Virginia Tourism Corporation. “Whether our beaches, mountains, music, wine, craft beer or oysters, there’s something for everyone to love in a Virginia vacation.”

Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the Commonwealth’s ‘Virginia is for Lovers’ brand is used in marketing campaigns to highlight the wealth of tourism attractions found throughout Virginia. Home to iconic sites such as George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, it is evident why ‘Virginia is for History Lovers.’ Shenandoah National Park, the world-famous Blue Ridge Parkway, and beautiful beaches along our coast help demonstrate why ‘Virginia is for Outdoor Lovers.’

About Virginia Tourism
The Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) is the state agency responsible for marketing the Commonwealth as a premier travel and film destination. Its iconic slogan, Virginia is for Lovers, celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2019.

Tourism is an instant revenue generator in Virginia. In 2018, international and domestic visitors to Virginia spent $28 billion, with domestic tourism alone supporting 235,000 jobs and contributing $1.8 billion in state and local taxes. For more information about Virginia Tourism, please visit

# # #