Press Room

Tourism Revenue Reached $185.9 Million in Lexington, Buena Vista, and Rockbridge County in 2019

-Statewide visitor spending reached $27 billion-

LEXINGTON, Va. (November 3, 2020) – Tourism revenue for Lexington, Buena Vista, and Rockbridge County reached $185.9 million, a two percent increase over 2018. Local tourism-supported jobs totaled 1,408 while local tourism-related taxes were $4.5 million.

Tourism revenue for the Shenandoah Valley's 14 localities stretching from Lexington to Winchester reached $1.57 billion in 2019, a $46 million increase over 2018. Local tourism-supported jobs totaled 13,859 while local tourism-related taxes increased $1.4 million to $45.8 million.

According to the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC), tourism in Virginia generated $27 billion in visitor spending in 2019. The tourism industry also supported 237,000 jobs for Virginia communities and provided $1.8 billion in state and local revenue. Virginia ranks 8th in the nation for domestic travel spending. All data is from the U.S. Travel Association and is based on domestic visitor spending from trips taken 50 miles or more away from home.

The travel industry in the Commonwealth has continued to grow 10 years in a row with a compound annual growth rate of 3.9 percent since 2010. However, these figures do not account for the devastating impact that COVID-19 has had on the tourism industry.

“We’re excited to see 2019’s tourism impact surpassed that of 2018 for our local economy,” said Jean Clark, Director of Tourism. “In fact, the average household paid less in taxes thanks to visitor spending. When we broke it down, we found City of Lexington households saved $1,588.62, Buena Vista households saved $114.50, and Rockbridge County households saved $990.40. In other words, if tourism no longer existed in our region, those households would have to pay that much more in state and local taxes. Tourism offsets our household tax responsibility.”

The coronavirus pandemic put the Virginia travel and tourism industry in crisis, and imposed a devastating strain on Virginia’s hotels, restaurants, attractions, and communities. The pandemic caused decreased revenue and a reduced workforce, while some businesses have been forced to shutter temporarily if not completely. As a result, early numbers for 2020 project a sharp decrease in tourism spending.

As the Commonwealth continues to grapple with the impact of COVID-19, the pandemic has further emphasized the stark contrast in 2019 and 2020 and that statewide economic revival cannot occur without the recovery of the travel industry.

“Our office worked with local tourism partners to put in place a visitor, resident, and employee hospitality promise,” explained Patty Williams, Marketing Director for Rockbridge Regional Tourism. “PACT stands for Protecting All Citizens and Travelers and it’s our local hospitality pledge to embrace CDC guidelines and industry standards in an effort to safeguard against COVID-19 while also being operational to keep our local economy afloat. Visitors and residents can easily recognize PACT partners by looking for the PACT seal on business doors or 6-foot social distancing decals on their floors.”

While the coronavirus has had a significant impact on Virginia’s tourism economy, the industry remains hopeful for a robust return to 2019 numbers in the future. Tourism will be key to economic recovery as the pandemic stabilizes and leisure and business travel resumes. As Americans begin to travel again, Lexington, Buena Vista, and Rockbridge County intends to help restore the tourism economy into the economic engine it always has been.

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About Lexington, Va. and Rockbridge County

Well-known for its charming downtown, and as the home of Washington and Lee University and Virginia Military Institute, Lexington remains the historic jewel in the Shenandoah Valley. Just a few miles off the Blue Ridge Parkway and easily accessed by Interstates I-81 and I-64, visitors to Lexington and Rockbridge County enjoy a wide range of area activities – from hiking, biking and kayaking to strolling the streets in search of art and collectibles. It’s the kind of place where you can park your car and wander about downtown feeling like you’ve stepped back into a peaceful, less hectic moment in time. For more information on local attractions and events, visit www.LexingtonVirginia.com.

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