New tourism grants seek to keep Virginians in state for their vacations

Communities across Virginia are about to launch new tourism initiatives. They’ll be encouraging people to drive to destinations in Virginia rather than flying out of state for vacations.

The pandemic might not be over yet, but tourism officials in Virginia say it’s time for a road trip. That’s why they’re hitting the accelerator on DRIVE 2.0 – sending $10,000 grants to 27 communities across Virginia — everywhere from Alleghany Highlands and Scott County to the Town of Damascus and Fairfax County.

Susan Payne is chairwoman of the Virginia Tourism Corporation.

“Driving rather than flying away on vacation or leaving the state but staying in the state and visiting what’s available in Virginia,” Payne says.

The plans are built around a hub and spoke model, identifying regional lures and attractions around hubs like Busch Gardens or Virginia Beach. Caroline Logan is director of communications at the Virginia Tourism Corporation.

“People are coming to Virginia to experience these iconic destinations and attractions, and what we do with the hub-and-spoke model is organize the other lures while they’re here,” Logan explains. “So, of course they may be going to Virginia Beach but they’re going to go and see a museum. They’re going to go to a winery. They’re going to do some outdoor recreation.”

The planning for these grants started before COVID-19 disrupted the economy, but tourism officials say now is an ideal time to create some buzz around an industry that was hit hard by the pandemic.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

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