Blue Ridge Parkway generates another record year for tourism revenue

Published: Jul. 6, 2022 at 6:37 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - The Blue Ridge Parkway saw another record year for tourism revenue in 2021. A recent National Park Service report shows tourists spent nearly $1.3 billion in Virginia.

Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge President Landon Howard explained how tourism in the southwest Virginia area contributed to the $1.3 billion record.

“The Blue Ridge Parkway is really so important to us because it’s our number one tourist attraction,” Howard said.

The tourist attraction supports countless local businesses in Southwest Virginia.

“It’s literally worth tens of millions of dollars to us on an annual basis,” Howard said.

The $1.3 billion in revenue keeps growing each year along with the number of tourists, from 14.9 million in 2019 to nearly 16 million tourists in 2021.

“We have tens of thousands of visitors on the parkway literally every single week and they stop and spend their money,” Howard said.

Tourists stop at places along the parkway like Explore Park in Roanoke.

“We see a lot of local community people, but also people within the region,” Alex North said. “We’re seeing folks from Lynchburg, some from southside, literally everywhere within an hours or two drive.”

Tourism officials believe the pandemic pushed more people to Virginia’s Blue Ridge with socially distant vacations.

“People were looking for things in the outdoors to experience during COVID,” Howard said. “I think that people who came here during the pandemic are going to want to come back and see it again.”

Virginia is ranked as fourth in the nation for economic revenue from tourism.

“The Blue Ridge Parkway is really central to who we are as a product,” Howard said.

Tourism revenue boosted the hotel, restaurant and recreation industries in 2021.

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