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After record year for tourism, focus now on recovery

Published: Sep. 28, 2020 at 8:36 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - 2019 was another record year for tourism in Virginia’s Blue Ridge.

Although 2020 is a much different story, tourism officials are looking forward to a strong fall and holiday season.

Direct tourism spending topped $920 million in 2019, supported more than 8,000 jobs and generated more than $66 million in state and local taxes, according to statistics from the U.S. Travel Association and the Virginia Travel Corporation.

This year the focus isn’t on breaking more records; it’s recovery.

Landon Howard is the President of Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge, the regional tourism marketing agency.

“We’re now back up to 60 percent of normal,” Howard told WDBJ7. “And as we go into the fall and our reopening campaign that we’re doing, we’re hoping people are going to come here and enjoy our outdoors.”

With local businesses adopting the Virginia’s Blue Ridge Stay Safe Pledge, and the fall colors offering a scenic incentive for travelers, Howard said the region is ready to provide a safe escape.

Howard said he hopes families will take this message to heart, and invite out-of-town guests to visit.

And he’s encouraging them to recommend a stay in a local hotel, instead of offering up the spare bedroom.

Copyright 2020 WDBJ. All rights reserved.

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