Rockbridge tourist attractions doing well after COVID

Published: Jul. 6, 2021 at 5:13 PM EDT
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ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - The crowds are back at the Natural Bridge, although it’s not that they ever went anywhere.

“From Memorial Day to Labor Day, Saturdays and Sundays are the most popular times,” said Park Manager Jim Jones.

Being an outdoor attraction meant they didn’t have to close during last year’s lockdown, and that was a big advantage.

“Our top five revenue days came since 2020,” Jones explained.

Including Labor Day last year, bringing in just short of $30,000.

“That’s a lot of people,” Jones said. “That’s an awful lot of people.”

At the Virginia Safari Park, a few miles up the road, the COVID crowds backed all the way out to Interstate 81.

Today, while it’s not that crazy, they’re still up.

“I think that actually last year, I think helped get our name out there to a lot of people who didn’t actually know we were here,” said Safari Park Director Sarah Friedel.

And having all this new business has let them make some improvements and add attractions.

“It definitely gave us a lot of opportunity so we could expand and grow here,” she said.

“People are looking for an adventure when they get out on the road these days,” said Mark Cline.

And that’s what Cline’s Dinosaur Kingdom II is all about.

“People in the tourism business, we have to start looking at this as an entertainment business,” he said, “because the face of tourism has changed and has become more of that.”

Something that even at a natural wonder like Natural Bridge, they’ve been working on.

“It’s the day-to-day stuff that happens, those pleasant surprises that the chief ranger-visitor experiences doing,” Jones said. “That’s the decoration that’s on the cake, the sweet spot that really gives people something to see when they come to visit.”

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