Investments in tourism generating big returns for Virginia

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RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Since 2014, there has been $1.4 billion in private investments made in the tourism industry in Virginia.

Governor Terry McAuliffe also announced the tourism industry say $2.2 billion in total growth during his administration, which represents a compound annual growth rate of 3.3 percent.

"My team and I have traveled across the globe to promote Virginia as a premier destination, showcasing out beautiful scenery, rich history and incredible culinary offerings, in addition to our outstanding oysters, wine, craft beer, cider and distilled spirits," said McAuliffe. "I am proud of the continued growth we've seen in this important industry, which helps us spread the message that Virginia is for Lovers."

Since January 2014, McAuliffe and members of his Cabinet and representatives of several state agencies have completed 35 trade and marketing missions around the world.

According to a release, the more than 100 new tourism products, events and developments as well as filming projects led to record-breaking visitor spending.

Virginia is also now home to 250 craft breweries, more than 280 wineries, 57 distilleries, and more than 20 cideries.

"As the fifth-largest private employer in Virginia, the travel industry is an important sector of the Virginia economy, contributing to the quality of life for our residents and making Virginia the best place to live, work and raise a family," said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore.

There have also been more than $3.3 million in matching tourism grants given to localities to help them leverage marketing dollars, which has resulted in economic growth annually.

The release says domestic travelers spent nearly $65 million per day in Virginia in 2016, which helped travel industry employees earn $5.6 billion, up 5.4 percent over 2015.

Food and lodging posted the largest increase in travel expenditures, up $630 million over 2015.

Agritourism now accounts for $2.2 billion in economic activity across Virginia, supporting 22,000 jobs, worth $840 million in income, and putting $135 million into state and local taxes.

Tourism overall is an instant revenue generator, bringing in $23.7 billion in 2016, which was up 10.2 percent compared to 2013.

As of 2017, visitor spending in Virginia supported 230,000 jobs, up 7.6 percent, and provided $1.7 billion in state and local taxes. More than 45 million people from across the United States visited Virginia in 2017, a record high for domestic travel to the Commonwealth.

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