Virginia ranks among top U.S. states in tourism

Each year Virginia ranks among the top U.S. states in tourism. Millions of visitors come not only from neighboring states and major U.S. markets but from all corners of the world, traveling with the intent of spending their time and money in Virginia. The result is $20.4 billion in visitor spending, $1.3 billion in state and local tax revenue and 207,000 jobs supported annually by tourism in Virginia.

While those figures speak for themselves, it helps to be able to visualize what the impact of tourism means in terms of day-to-day living for Virginians. The Virginia Tourism Corporation recently released additional figures that further illustrate how important tourism is to the commonwealth:

• The annual state tax revenue generated by tourism in Virginia is sufficient to pay the yearly salaries of 27,000 firefighters, or 22,000 elementary school teachers.

• Without the tax revenue generated by the travel and tourism industry in Virginia, each Virginia household would pay $438 more in annual taxes.

“Tourism obviously generates a significant amount of revenue for Virginia – and for every dollar Virginia invests in tourism it receives five in return,” said Rita McClenny, president and CEO of the Virginia Tourism Corporation. “The important thing to understand is that tourism benefits us all, whether or not we work in the tourism industry or travel ourselves.”

According to figures released by the United States Travel Association, direct spending by domestic and international travelers in the U.S. amounts to $2.3 billion per day, which directly generates $129 billion in local, state and federal tax revenue. One out of every eight jobs in America depends on tourism.

Tourism is an indispensable engine for job creation, providing opportunity for communities and individuals. According to the USTA, while national unemployment rates have remained stagnant, travel has added jobs at a faster pace than the rest of the economy. For many young workers a travel job means the first foothold on the career ladder.

Most important, travel and tourism jobs in Virginia cannot be outsourced to foreign countries. “A ranger at Shenandoah National Park can no more be outsourced than the park itself,” said McClenny.

For more information on traveling in Virginia visit or call toll-free 800-VISITVA for a free “Virginia Is For Lovers Travel Guide.”

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