RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced more than $1.9 million in matching grants will be awarded to 161 local tourism initiatives as part of Virginia Tourism Corporation’s (VTC) Recovery Marketing Leverage Program (RMLP). VTC revised its traditional Marketing Leverage Program to create the RMLP in an effort to support tourism initiatives in responding to and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.
RMLP is open to all Virginia tourism industry partners and will help local and regional tourism programs leverage limited local marketing dollars through a local in-kind match of the state grants funds. This funding cycle, local partners will provide more than $5.6 million in-kind value to match the VTC grants, and the RMLP will ultimately impact 483 statewide tourism entities.
“In Virginia, the travel and tourism industries are the backbone of our communities and our economy, and they have been among those hardest hit by the pandemic,” said Governor Northam. “This program will give localities and businesses access to much-needed marketing resources to sustain their operations and ensure the Commonwealth’s many attractions are safe for visitors. These are critical investments that will help to grow demand for Virginia products, drive local spending, and restore additional economic activity as we continue on our road to recovery.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating effects on the tourism and hospitality industries in Virginia and across the country. While visitors spent $27 billion in the Commonwealth in 2019—a 3.4 percent increase over 2018—supporting 237,000 work opportunities and contributing $1.8 billion in state and local taxes, 2020 projects forecast a major decline in tourism revenues.
VTC offered these grant funds as a first step to re-entry into the marketplace to spur economic activity and future travel across the Commonwealth. The RMLP is designed to increase visitor spending by stimulating new tourism marketing through partnerships and extending the “Virginia is for Lovers” brand. Applicants joined with two other partners to apply for the VTC funds. Partners may consist of Virginia cities, towns, counties, convention and visitors’ bureaus, chambers of commerce, local or regional destination marketing organizations, private businesses, museums, attractions, cultural events, and other tourism-related businesses.
“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has upended the tourism industry, which is one of Virginia’s largest sectors,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “RMLP will inject dollars in every region of the Commonwealth and help the development of new tourism product while getting communities back on their feet.”
For more information on VTC’s industry assistance programs, including the COVID-19 Industry Response Toolkit, visit vatc.org. A full list of Recovery Marketing Leverage Program grant recipients can be found here.
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