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Bath, Alleghany Receive Grants To Boost Tourism

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RICHMOND— The Alleghany Highlands Chamber of Commerce and Tourism and Bath County will each receive $10,000 in matching grants as part of the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s Recovery Marketing Leverage Program.

The grants were announced Wednesday by Gov. Ralph Northam. The grant to the Alleghany Highlands Chamber of Commerce and Tourism will be used to market the Jackson River Scenic Trail. Bath County will use its grant to promote the Culinary Magic — Awesome Bath County Foodie Experience.

“We will use the VTC Recovery Marketing Leverage grant funds to primarily market and promote the Jackson River Scenic Trail.“ said Teresa Hammond, executive director of the Alleghany Highlands Chamber of Commerce and Tourism. “As the county prepares to complete Phase V, the chamber will work to promote this anchor outdoor asset as a premier Rails to Trails initiative. Once completed, the Jackson River Scenic Trail will span a full 16 miles in one direction and connect the City of Covington, Alleghany County and Bath County. There will be five trailheads with ample parking and restroom facilities. The trail is a multi-use trail and meanders along the beautiful and scenic Jackson River.”

“The Alleghany Highland Chamber of Commerce and Tourism does an excellent job championing our area. This grant will allow them to focus marketing on a premier asset that will help our communities recover from the economic downturn related to COVID-19 and expand awareness of the truly amazing outdoor amenities in the Alleghany Highlands.” said Chad Williams, director, Alleghany County Parks and Recreation.

Northam said $861,080 in matching grants were awarded to 64 local tourism initiatives. The Virginia Tourism Corporation has revised its traditional Marketing Leverage Program to create a recovery program in an effort to support tourism initiatives as they respond to, and recover from, the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Recovery Marketing Leverage Program grant application was open to all Virginia tourism industry partners. The awarded funds help local and regional tourism programs leverage limited marketing budgets through in-kind matches of state grants, totaling more than $2.2 million. This program will impact over 380 tourism entities across the commonwealth.

“The tourism and hospitality industries have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic,” said Northam. “The commonwealth is stepping in to address the impacts of decreased revenue and job loss, along with the temporary closure of tourism-related businesses. These funds are the latest step in Virginia’s efforts to revive our tourism economy, spur new economic activity, and inject critical funds back into our communities.”

Visitors to Virginia spent $27 billion in 2019 — a 3.4 percent increase from 2018 — supporting 237,000 work opportunities and contributing $1.8 billion in state and local taxes. In 2020, however, there was a major decline in tourism revenues. 2021 forecasts project similar revenue declines. Funding opportunities, like the Recovery Marketing Leverage Program, are crucial to helping industries in need recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We want to equip Virginia destinations with the tools they need to support and promote the diverse communities that travelers love to visit,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “Many people are eager to go on vacations again, and these grants will help towns and cities across our Commonwealth position themselves for success as visitors get back on the road.”

The Virginia Tourism Corporation offered these grants as a way to stimulate re-entry into the marketplace. It will lead to increased economic activity and promote travel across the commonwealth. The Recovery Marketing Leverage Program is designed to increase visitor spending through new tourism marketing partnerships and by expanding the “Virginia is for Lovers” brand. Past and present awardees include destination marketing organizations, museums, cultural events, foundations, and private sector businesses.

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