Eastern Shore tourism economy continues rapid growth – Ranked Virginia’s fastest-growing tourism region in 2016
EASTERN SHORE OF VIRGINIA — The tourism economy on Virginia’s Eastern Shore continues its record growth, with a 4.8 percent increase in 2016 visitor spending compared to the prior year, according to data released by the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) recently.
Virginia’s Eastern Shore was the state’s fastest-growing tourism region for three of the last four years. The Eastern Shore, comprised of Accomack and Northampton Counties, is one of ten tourism regions in Virginia tracked by VTC.
As a testament to the region’s growing popularity with tourists, more than fifty new tourism-related businesses sprouted up across the region since 2013, major improvements have been made to existing businesses and two microbreweries and a waterpark are slated to open in the next twelve months.
In 2016 visitors to the Eastern Shore spent $273.6 million at restaurants, B&BS, hotels, campgrounds, shops, galleries, museums, attractions and on other travel-related items. This translates to an average of $749,797 a day streaming into businesses from Cape Charles to Chincoteague.
In addition to spending directly at local businesses, travelers contribute to the local tax base by paying sales, meals and lodging tax, which flows directly into local towns and counties. Tourism-related taxes on the Eastern Shore grew at the fastest clip statewide, bringing in $7.5 million, a whopping 7.2 percent growth over 2015 – and an increase of 31 percent since 2010.
The Eastern Shore also took the top spot in state tax receipts, payroll and employment, other key indicators of a tourism economy’s growth.
Data gathered by the Eastern Shore’s tourism marketing organization, the Eastern Shore of Virginia Tourism Commission, demonstrates the same trend line as VTC’s study. From 2011 through 2016, website visits grew 963 percent, print travel guide requests increased 665 percent and online travel guide views increased 998 percent.
“As chairman of the Eastern Shore of Virginia Tourism Commission, I want to congratulate our tourism partners on another banner year,” said Steve Potts, chairman of the Eastern Shore Tourism Commission Board of Directors. “Year after year, the numbers show that our tourism industry keeps growing and is a major driver of the economy in both Accomack and Northampton Counties. We live in a beautiful area and now it is being discovered by more and more people every year.”
The Virginia Eastern Show shows sustained and record growth due to a combination of factors,” said Kerry Allison, executive director of the Eastern Shore of Virginia Tourism Commission, which markets the region to consumers across the mid-Atlantic. “In 2014 we implemented a digital marketing program to increase the region’s digital footprint. We have things here that are, increasingly, in short supply in the rest of the world: Pristine and wild outdoor places, a slower pace, a deep humanity, plus we’re a short drive from millions and millions of Americans on the Eastern seaboard. ”
The Virginia Tourism Corporation compiles its annual economic impact data from the U.S. Travel Association. The information is based on domestic visitor spending (travelers from within the United States) from per-person trips taken 50 miles or more away from home. Detailed explanations of how the study is conducted and data by locality are available on www.vatc.org.