Tourism gradually increasing, more than a billion dollar industry in Loudoun
Loudoun County was again near the top in economic value after the release of tourism numbers by the Virginia Tourism Corp.
According to the report released Sept. 13, Loudoun County tourism revenue reached more than $1.5 billion in 2011, a 6.9 percent increase over 2010. Local tourism-supported jobs totaled 15,789, while local tourism-related taxes totaled more than $33 million.
Patrick Kaler, CEO of Visit Loudoun noted the numbers are good after recovering from the economic downturn.
“These numbers are pretty much on target. We are recovering slowly from an economic catastrophe and these numbers are good,” Kaler said. “I think it is reflective of what we are bringing into the destination as well as Visit Loudoun. We don’t take credit for all those numbers, but we can look at some of the different market segments we are attracting and we are seeing good growth there that would have impact on those, such as sports marketing.
“We are converting 86 percent of our sports leads into business here in Loudoun County,” Kaler said.
Gov. Bob McDonnell announced Sept. 13 that visitors to Virginia generated $20.4 billion in revenue from tourism in 2011, an 8 percent increase over 2010.
In 2011, tourism in Virginia supported 207,000 jobs, an increase of nearly 2 percent in employment, and provided more than $1.32 billion in state and local taxes.
The VTC receives its annual economic impact data from the U.S. Travel Association. The information is based on domestic visitor spending from per-person trips taken 50 miles or more away from home.
Loudoun County is the third highest grossing tourism revenue county in the commonwealth. It only trails Alexandria City and Fairfax County.
According to Kaler, the tourism revenue comes from hotel and lodging, restaurants, gas tax, sales tax and anything else that may be associated with visitor spending.
“Within the last year, the biggest gainer for Loudoun County was dining and lodging,” Kaler said. “Dining was up 11.1 percent and lodging was up 6.7 percent.”
Statewide, domestic traveler spending on lodging reached $3.8 million, a 3.8 percent increase from 2010. Spending on lodging accounted for 18.6 percent of total domestic travel spending within the state.
Kaler noted that Loudoun County has seen a large response to leisure-based venues, like wineries, in addition to the hospitality sector.
“We are seeing a great response on the leisure side of things, but it is a little harder to track. We are seeing good growth in the weddings market where this last year we weren’t even marketing that arena,” Kaler said. “We do really well during the week with Dulles and all the business travel and on weekends the hotels in Leesburg do really well because of weddings and other events.”
Visit Loudoun is in the process of doing a two-year comparison by week through the Starr Report, which is conducted by Smith Travel Research. Smith Travel Research receives data from all hotels. “We want to do a week-to-week to see if there is a trend year over year, where we might have holes we need to fill,” said Kaler.