Grant Supports New Area Tourism Effort

‘Small Towns, Big Backyard’ Offers Road Trip Options

The Lexington and Rockbridge Area Tourism Development office has received $10,000 from the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s Recovery Marketing Leverage Program, designed to help local and regional tourism entities attract more visitors by leveraging limited local marketing dollars through a local match of the state grants funds.

More than $1.9 million in matching grant funds were awarded to 161 local tourism initiatives through this program. This funding cycle, local partners will provide more than $5.6 million inkind value to match the VTC grants. The grants will ultimately impact 483 statewide tourism entities.

Lexington and Rockbridge Area Tourism will use the VTC Recovery Marketing Leverage grant funds to build awareness of the “hub-andspoke” ease of the area for those seeking outdoor adventure and quaint delights. The “Small Towns, Big Backyard” road trip marketing campaign does that by creating and distributing engaging content, with the intent to generate consumer desire to visit the region.

“COVID-19 has propelled people to seek outdoorcentered getaways. Pairing Rockbridge County’s rivers, parks and public lands with clean, distanced accommodations creates an inspiring road trip option for solo travelers, couples, and families in this period of virtual learning and experiences,” said Patty Williams, director of marketing for Lexington and Rockbridge Area Tourism Development. “Our ‘Small Towns, Big Backyard’ campaign will drive the road trip inspiration by highlighting regional treasures like Natural Bridge State Park, the Upper James River Water Trail, the Shenandoah Beerwerks Trail, Glen Maury Park, and quite a bit more.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the tourism and hospitality industries in Virginia. As the commonwealth slowly reopens for business, 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 of Virginia.

“Tourism is a crucial section of the Virginia economy and when we invest in this industry, we support local job creation and drive regional economic growth, which is desperately needed now due to the pandemic,” said Gov. Ralph Northam. “These funds give localities and businesses access to critical marketing resources that will help bring more travelers to our commonwealth, increase visitor spending, and grow demand for Virginia products.”

Tourism is one of the commonwealth’s largest economic engines, with visitors to Lexington, Buena Vista, and Rockbridge County spending more than $185.9 million in 2019, supporting 1,408 work opportunities and contributing $4.5 million in local tax revenue.

The News-Gazette

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