Visitor spending in the Richmond Region continues to move in a familiar direction: up. According to just-released data compiled for the Virginia Tourism Corporation, consumer spending by visitors to the seven local area jurisdictions in 2022 totaled $3.5 billion, which represents a year-over-year increase of 22 percent.
Tourism-related spending – including lodging, food and beverage, retail, recreation and transportation – generated $165.1 million in local taxes and $95.6 million in state tax revenues. In addition, 27,634 jobs were supported during the year by visitor’s tourism-related dollars.
Visitor spending in 2021 was $2.8 billion.
“Despite concerns about inflation and transportation costs, we enjoyed another record year in visitor spending, accelerating our post-pandemic momentum and contributing to the economic vitality of the Richmond Region,” said Jack Berry, President and CEO of Richmond Region Tourism, which represents seven partner localities, including Chesterfield, Hanover, Henrico and New Kent Counties, the cities of Richmond and Colonial Heights and the town of Ashland. “These figures punctuate the fact that our community continues to attract a wide range of visitors, from business travelers attending conventions, to families participating in sports tourism to lovers of history, culture, culinary delights and the great outdoors. Our big welcome mat is always out.”
According to Richmond Region Tourism, the burgeoning popularity of sports tourism is playing an outsized role in attracting visitors, with sports tournaments representing 68% of the organization’s overall group bookings. Young athletes and their families are increasingly traveling to Richmond for soccer, softball, baseball, lacrosse, field hockey and other competitions.
“As local officials have watched the accelerating momentum around sports tourism, they have responded in turn by making important commitments toward expanding and enhancing the region’s sports tourism infrastructure,” said J.C. Poma, Chesterfield County Executive Director of Sports, Visitation and Entertainment. “Those efforts, including plans to continue building new athletic fields and facilities in Chesterfield, will continue to pay dividends in the form of more and bigger tournaments and overall increases in the number of sports-tourism visitors. These important investments will contribute to more visitor spending in the future.”
“When you consider that two in every three event visitors to the region have traveled here to participate in or watch a sports tournament or championship, the significance and impact of sports tourism becomes crystal clear,” said Dennis Bickmeier, Executive Director of the Henrico Sports and Entertainment Authority. “In Henrico County, we will continue to invest in creating an environment where sports tourism can continue to flourish and grow.”
Meetings and conventions, leisure activities and family and friends travel also are contributing to the rise in visitor spending. Likewise, the positioning of the region as a welcoming place for diverse groups – through such programs as BLK RVA and OutRVA – is playing a part in the upward trend of visitors.
Earlier this year, Richmond Region Tourism announced another record for the total amount of lodging taxes collected during the 2023 fiscal year. The more than $35 million in lodging taxes were up 16.36 percent from the previous year. Total hotel revenues for the year topped $437 million among hotels in the City of Richmond and Chesterfield, Hanover and Henrico Counties.
“These impressive numbers in visitor spending and hotel tax revenue reflect our comprehensive strategy designed to promote the region’s tremendous assets,” said Angela Kelly-Wiecek, chair of the Richmond Region Tourism board and a Hanover County supervisor. “With our new Tourism Improvement District, which will generate millions of dollars dedicated to promoting the region, I’m confident this upward trend will continue in the years ahead.”
Direct visitor spending (in millions) within the Richmond Region Tourism footprint for calendar year 2022 is listed below:
Total Visitor Spending
*Hanover data includes Town of Ashland tourism numbers
All data was received by the VTC from Tourism Economics and is based on travelers from within the United States taking trips 50 miles or more away from home.
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