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.

Read the rest

What people are searching for in Washington state vacations | Washington

(The Center Square) – The top three Airbnb destinations in Washington state are Seattle, Leavenworth, and Ocean Shores. The most desired amenities in the Evergreen State are a hot tub, sauna, and luxury bathroom.

So concludes Investment Property Exchange Services, Inc. – known as IPX1031 – after examining Google Trends in each state across the country. Google Trends is a website that analyzes the popularity of top search queries in Google Search across various regions and languages.

San Francisco, California-based Airbnb, Inc. operates an online marketplace for lodging, primarily homestays for vacation rentals, and tourism activities. The platform is accessible via website and mobile app.

“Washington’s top destinations for Airbnbs really reflects the diversity of the state,” explained Collin Czarnecki, study researcher on behalf of IPX1031, in an email to The Center Square. “On the one hand you have Washington’s tourist hub of Seattle drawing visitors looking for accommodations outside hotels in a bustling, urban center.”

He went on to say, “Then on the other hand, you have the mountain town of Leavenworth and the coastal setting of Ocean Shores showcasing the popularity of scenic destinations among Washington residents.”

Leavenworth is a Bavarian-styled village in the Cascade Mountains, in central Washington.

Ocean Shores in Gray’s Harbor County is a small coastal city known for its long sandy beaches surrounded by low dunes and a network of lakes and waterways.

“Given the dramatic scenery, mountain and water views of each of these Airbnb hotspots, it’s not surprising to see Washington residents want to indulge in spa-like amenities like hot tubs, saunas, and luxury bathrooms in their Airbnb rentals,” Czarnecki explained.

After enduring the lockdowns and travel restrictions related to COVID-19, IPX1031 contends Americans are catching the travel bug once again as the virus appears to be transitioning from pandemic to endemic.

Read the rest