Governor Ralph Northam announced today that ESO Arts Center in Belle Haven, Virginia received $1255 from the Virginia Tourism Corporation Marketing Leverage Program grant fund. In total VTC awarded more than $840,000 for 56 tourism marketing projects across the state to help increase visitation and revenue for Virginia’s localities through tourism.
The grants are designed to help local and regional tourism entities attract more visitors by leveraging local marketing dollars, and will ultimately impact at least 232 other statewide tourism entities. The local organizations match the state grant funds by a minimum of 2:1 in order to support marketing projects. This funding cycle, the local partners will match the VTC grant dollars with more than $3.1 million, providing more than $3.9 million in new marketing to increase visitation to Virginia.
ESO Arts Center received a $1255 grant for its Craft Beer & Music Festival- weekend in Exmore, VA. ESO Arts Center partnered with The Town of Exmore and new restaurant Rancho Relaxo to supply $1255 in matching funds for the 6th Annual Craft Beer & Music Festival hosted by ESO Arts Center with the goal of extending the festival fundraiser into a weekend of exploring downtown Exmore, enjoying new restaurant Rancho Relaxo and experiencing all that Northampton and Accomack Counties have to offer.
The VTC Marketing Leverage Program is designed to stimulate new tourism marketing through partnerships by leveraging limited marketing dollars, resulting in increased visitor spending. A minimum of three entities must partner financially to apply and may consist of Virginia towns, cities, counties, convention and visitors bureaus, chambers of commerce, other local or regional destination marketing organizations, private businesses, museums, attractions, cultural events, and other tourism-related entities.
Research shows that every VTC dollar invested in grants resulted in $16 of direct visitor spending. Marketing campaigns that received Marketing Leverage Grants increased visitation by 15%.
“Virginia’s tourism industry is a key pillar of our economy and growing it is a great way to create new jobs and opportunity in every corner of the Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. “These grants help communities across the Commonwealth discover new ways to market themselves to travelers by creating new tourism products and enhancing existing attractions and destinations. These efforts improve the visitor experience, making it easy for travelers to discover why Virginia is for Lovers.”
“The Marketing Leverage Program grants continue to provide critical funding for our tourism businesses across the state, and demonstrate the power of public-private partnerships,” said Esther Lee, Secretary of Commerce & Trade. “These dollars are injected into local economies across the Commonwealth, helping to create vibrant communities and premier destinations that attract travelers from all over the world. These efforts help to ensure that Virginia remains the best state in the nation not only to visit, but to live, work, and raise a family.”
Tourism is an instant revenue generator for Virginia. In 2016, tourism generated $24 billion in revenue, supported nearly 230,000 jobs and provided $1.7 billion in state and local taxes. Dollars invested in tourism are proven to provide a 7:1 return in tax revenue for Virginia, and the grant awards and matching funds provide a stimulus to localities seeking to increase tourism visitation and revenue.