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County tourism gets $10,000

Halifax County Department of Tourism is among 42 local tourism initiatives to receive more than $750,000 in matching grants as part of Virginia Tourism Corporation’s (VTC) Marketing Leverage Grant program.

Gov. Bob McDonnell announced Halifax County Department of Tourism has been awarded $10,000 for the Halifax-Mecklenburg Blueway project.

Halifax County and Mecklenburg County teamed up to apply for the Virginia Tourism Corporation marketing grant to develop a river trail system mapping out area rivers.

Virginia State Parks District Manager Tim Vest told members of the Halifax County Board of Supervisors and Halifax and South Boston town councils in October that if the grant was successful, the towns of South Boston, Halifax, the Staunton River Battlefield State Park, Staunton River State Park and Occoneechee State Park would serve as anchors for the trail.

According to County Administrator Jim Halasz, the grant would be comprised of $10,000 in state tourism money to be matched with $10,000 in local funds, $1,500 from Mecklenburg Tourism, $1,500 from Halifax Tourism, $3,000 from Staunton River State Park and $4,000 from another entity.

The matching grants are designed to help local and regional tourism entities attract more visitors by leveraging local marketing dollars and will ultimately impact at least 184 other statewide tourism entities. 

The local organizations match the state grant funds by a minimum of 2:1 in order to support marketing projects. This funding cycle, the local partners will match the VTC grant dollars with nearly $3 million, providing nearly $4 million total in new marketing to increase visitation to Virginia.

 “These grants are an important tool that will enable our localities to more effectively market themselves to potential visitors,” said McDonnell. “More visitors in Virginia mean greater tax revenue, a better business environment, and more good jobs for Virginians.” 

Tourism is an instant revenue generator for Virginia. In 2012 tourism generated $21.2 billion in revenue, supported 210,000 jobs and provided $1.36 billion in state and local taxes. Dollars invested in tourism are proven to provide a 5:1 return in tax revenue for Virginia, and the grant awards and matching funds provide a stimulus to localities seeking to increase tourism visitation and revenue.

VTC’s Marketing Leverage Program is designed to increase visitor spending by leveraging limited marketing dollars, stimulating new tourism marketing through partnerships and extending the “Virginia is for Lovers” brand.  A minimum of three Virginia entities must partner financially to apply for a grant.  Partners may consist of Virginia cities, towns, counties, convention and visitors bureaus, chambers of commerce, other local or regional destination marketing organizations, private businesses, museums, attractions, cultural events and other not-for-profit entities.  In total, VTC awards approximately $1.7 million annually — matched and leveraged on average 3:1 by partner dollars —  to more than 80 communities across the commonwealth.

“These grants enable local tourism partners to pursue projects that might otherwise be beyond their budget,” said Rita McClenny, president and CEO of Virginia Tourism Corporation. “The Marketing Leverage Grants program is a powerful tool in helping to support and grow a robust economy in Virginia. Our local partners are working on amazing projects and campaigns that will help to beautify communities, bring more visitors to Virginia and create even more outstanding tourism products that visitors will continue to fall in love with year after year.” 

The next round of VTC Marketing Leverage Program grants will open in spring 2014.