Editorial: Good news on the tourism front

Bob McDonnell hasn’t had a very good summer. But yesterday, some good news came Bob’s way.

Wednesday afternoon at Brown’s Island in Richmond, the governor announced that Virginia tourism resulted in $21.2 billion of revenue in 2012, a 4 percent increase over the year prior and a record high for Virginia.

The tourism industry also supported 210,000 jobs in 2012 and generated more than $1.36 billion in state and local taxes.

McDonnell was quick to revel in the good news, noting in a statement to media that since he’s been in office, tourism revenues have grown by 12.3 percent. He further pointed to a number of pet projects, like his movie fund, which helped attract Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln.”

Well, congrats.

Virginia’s a beautiful state, as we all know. There’s a lot to do here.

There’s also a lot to do here in Hanover County, and our numbers reflect this.

According to data compiled by the U.S. Travel Association for the Virginia Tourism Commission, in Hanover County, tourism accounted for $204.4 million of spending, a 3.7 percent increase over 2011. The industry also generated 2,353 jobs and $4.1 million of local tax receipts.

While spending is up, we trail behind our metro-Richmond neighbors. Tourism spending totaled $418.5 million in Chesterfield;  $756.5 million in Henrico; and  $617 million in Richmond.

While good news is good news – tourism spending grew in Hanover County last year – there’s room for improvement. With a major theme park, multiple historic sites and other destinations, Hanover County is really poised to be a leader in the region for tourism.

According to McDonnell’s office, tourism funding has a 5:1 return on investment. McDonnell pointed to increased financial support of tourism initiatives by the legislature as helping pave the way for the industry’s success.

Local officials would be wise to follow suit.

Posted on Thursday, September 5, 2013 at 10:09 am