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Posted by on Apr 16, 2018 in Featured

Coastal Virginia’s Tourism Outlook

Coastal Virginia’s Tourism Outlook

Effects of Tourism on Local Economy, Plus Coming Attractions and Ideas for Growth


Tourism is a major industry in Coastal Virginia, strengthening our local economy, raising the standards of our schools and improving our overall quality of life. To learn how tourism is faring in each individual city, we contacted local tourism leaders who shared with us the ROI that tourism brings in to their specific market, new project or developments we can look forward to in the year ahead, new advertising or marketing initiatives and ideas for growing Coastal Virginia’s tourism industry. Here’s what they had to say.

 

Eastern Shore

Answers provided by Kerry Allison, Executive Director of Eastern Shore of Virginia Tourism Commission.

What ROI does tourism bring in for your city/tourism market?

The Eastern Shore, Virginia’s fastest growing tourism region for three of the last four years, attracted $274 million in visitor spending in 2016, a 22 percent increase since 2011. The rapid expansion of our tourism economy is fueling new business formation: Over 60 new tourism-related businesses have opened since 2014. Towns and counties benefit directly from tax revenue generated by visitors; in 2016, tourism-related taxes were $7.5 million, helping fund vital, public-sector services like education and law enforcement.

Eastern Shore tourism

What new projects/developments are coming in the next year and beyond? How important are these projects/developments on visitation?

New attractions, restaurants and places to stay on the Eastern Shore are opening all the time, signaling the underlying vitality of the destination. Consumers are looking for exactly what the Eastern Shore has: small, friendly, waterfront towns, locally-owned restaurants and shops and six public beaches. The absence of “corporate” culture here fascinates visitors.

Among the new projects:

What new advertising/marketing focuses are you implementing?

A new website, which will be a powerful, new marketing engine for the region.

 

Hampton

Answers provided by Mary Fugere, Director of Hampton Convention & Visitor Bureau.

What ROI does tourism bring in for your city/tourism market?

While we monitor lodging, meals, amusement and applicable per-room fees derived from room night sales, the economic impact of the Hampton Convention & Visitor Bureau and the tourism industry is much greater that what we derive from Hampton hotel statistics. The Hampton CVB aggressively markets the Hampton Roads Convention Center, Hampton Coliseum, Boo Williams Sportsplex and other Hampton venues, and our successful efforts and the success of these venues feed not only our hotels, but the hotels in our neighboring cities. We study hotel demand and the revenue generated by it and calculate the number of Hampton visitors and their impact based on these statistics. Hampton has seen consistent growth in these areas, with a $7.1 percent increase in revenue per available room in 2017.

What new projects/developments are coming in the next year and beyond? How important are these projects/developments on visitation?

We are anxious for the completion of three Hampton hotel projects. They include Hyatt Place, which is being developed by Landmark Hotel Group diagonally across from the campus of Hampton Roads Convention Center and Hampton Coliseum; Element Hotel, an extended stay property at Peninsula Town Center built by the Tabani Group; and the conversion of the Crowne Plaza Hampton Marina Hotel to Tapestry by Shamin Hotels. Each of these properties will help Hampton CVB meet the demand for an increased inventory of select service hotel accommodations in close proximity to Hampton event venues.

Hampton has welcomed the craft beverage industry with gusto! In 2017 and 2018, Hampton received an infusion of savory spirits, with a cidery, distillery and new brewing companies tapping their product for our enjoyment. In 2017 Bull Island Brewing Company opened on the Downtown Hampton waterfront and Oozlefinch Craft Brewery opened at Fort Monroe. In first quarter 2018, both Capstan and The Vanguard Brewpub & Distillery opened to appreciative audiences. This spring and early summer, we will celebrate Sly Clyde Ciderworks’ presence in Phoebus. These artisans present an exciting array of visitor experiences that we hope to showcase through a tasting ticket that encourages Hampton guests to enjoy one and all.

These additions are complemented by new, locally-owned restaurants, including El Diablo Loco in Phoebus, Brown Chicken Brown Cow in Downtown, and Bowman’s Soul-N-The Wall in Coliseum Central. We are anticipating Fuller’s Raw Bar & Brewery and Stuft Restaurant, new additions coming soon in Phoebus, plus several new eateries at Buckroe Beach.

What new advertising/marketing focuses are you implementing?

We promote Buckroe Beach throughout the year, but during the summer months Buckroe is a Hampton hot spot! Buckroe is family friendly with many new offerings that ensure a spectacular seaside visit. Hampton Watersports rents jet skis and paddle-craft on site and sells a tasty variety of snacks and concessions that are complemented by the offerings of nearby food trucks. With the waterside playground, James T. Wilson Fishing Pier, picnic shelters and a bandstand presenting a weekly concert series, Buckroe is a summer hot spot.

Hampton is partnering with the Commonwealth of Virginia, the National Park Service and Fort Monroe Authority to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the 1619 first arrival of Africans in English North America. The arrival took place at Point Comfort, the modern-day site of Fort Monroe in Hampton. Of course, the anniversary is especially meaningful to Hampton. Hampton is preparing an exciting weekend of anniversary activities that we will market nationally in hopes that all audiences will join us in Hampton in August 2019.

What sort of attractions, amenities or infrastructure would you suggest to grow the tourism industry in your specific city or in Coastal Virginia as a whole? What are we missing?

Hampton needs a second full service hotel at the Hampton Roads Convention Center to ensure the success of the center and the Hampton Coliseum. We are fortunate to have the Embassy Suites on site with 295 guest rooms connected by covered walkway and a variety of select service properties in close proximity. We will realize the full potential of the Hampton Roads Convention Center when a second full service hotel helps us fulfill demand from meeting planners for on-site business-class accommodations.

 

Newport News tourismPhoto by William King

Newport News

Answers provided by Cindy Brouillard, Director of Tourism for Newport News Tourism Development Office.

What new projects/developments are coming in the next year and beyond? How important are these projects/developments on visitation?

Development continues to expand our corporate market, and they are working to bring more restaurants, hopefully breweries and entertainment venues.

What new advertising/marketing focuses are you implementing?

Beer wine & shine trail called Toast the Coast that covers COVA from the beach to Williamsburg. Within that promotion, we have a 4 Taps | 4 Cities promotion.

We will also be developing a bike trail portion for our website and promoting this too as the great outdoors is a very important “attractor” for tourism.

What sort of attractions, amenities or infrastructure would you suggest to grow the tourism industry in your specific city or in Coastal Virginia as a whole? What are we missing?

More entertainment features in all our cities would add an attractive component for everyone. The more options we offer to extend our visitor’s stay the more revenue that is created. Wish list: I’d love to see a tower that provides breathtaking panoramic views of our harbor and four cities.

A major sports team would be nice, and increased sporting venues across the region would also add to our regional attractiveness.

Lastly, a name change across all cities of Coastal Virginia would help in our marketing initiatives. Hampton Roads does not provide a locator for us nor do visitors from outside our area have a clue what that name means. However, for it to be effective, everyone must use it locally, regionally and nationally. Coastal Virginia provides an attractive locator for our region.

 

Norfolk

Answers provided by Sam Rogers, Interim President and CEO for Visit Norfolk.

What ROI does tourism bring in for your city/tourism market?

Norfolk’s tourism industry stimulates our economy by generating revenue through hotel occupancy, from day visitors and from residents who visit our attractions and restaurants. The hospitality industry employs over 7,000 people in Norfolk and generates over $700,000,000 in revenue, which is a significant number for a city of our size.

Norfolk tourism

What new projects/developments are coming in the next year and beyond? How important are these projects/developments on visitation?

Carnival cruises will return to Norfolk in 2019 with approximately 30,000 passengers visiting our city for the day and generating approximately $3.1 million in direct and indirect economic impact. The passengers will be sightseeing, dining and visiting our attractions while they are here. There is also continued growth of Ocean View as a tourist destination. Ocean View’s beach replenishment project, which was completed last year, combined with new recreational and dining experiences, provides more options for our visitors to experience one of Norfolk’s most unique neighborhoods.

What new advertising/marketing focuses are you implementing?

There will be a greater emphasis on digital marketing and social media, including working with travel influencers. We will also be focusing on other travel trends such as more online video and offering an authentically local feel on our website and ads.

Ocean View Norfolk

What sort of attractions, amenities or infrastructure would you suggest to grow the tourism industry in your specific city or in Coastal Virginia as a whole? What are we missing?

Ocean View’s recent resurgence has been an asset as water is a major attraction to both day and overnight visitors. Water is one of our greatest strengths, and the more opportunities for guests to be on, near or in the water is an absolute must to round out the Norfolk experience. We’ve seen more new construction and renovations in the downtown and waterfront areas of Norfolk, and projects such as the new boutique hotel by Marriott, the new World of Reptiles building at the Virginia Zoo and IKEA will only enhance the visitor experience in our city.

 

Portsmouth

Answers provided by David Schulte, Tourism Manager, Department of Marketing, Communications & Tourism for the City of Portsmouth.

What ROI does tourism bring in for your city/tourism market?

The Virginia Tourism Corporation estimates that last year visitors to Portsmouth spent $82.6 million, which supports 810 jobs and payrolls of $16.3 million. Spending by visitors generated an estimate $3.3 million in tax revenues for the City. In a City where over 50 percent of the property is non-taxable, the overall return-on-investment relative to tourism dollars is very important.

Portsmouth tourism

What new projects/developments are coming in the next year and beyond? How important are these projects/developments on visitation?

The new owners of the Renaissance Portsmouth-Norfolk Waterfront Hotel will undertake a multi-million-dollar renovation of its meeting space and sleeping rooms that will help it better compete for corporate, association and governments meetings. The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum will reopen following a three-year renovation of its exhibits and physical plant, and the City of Portsmouth will bring back the “Portside” area with a new food and entertainment venue on the waterfront. While it will not be an indoor venue like Waterside in Norfolk, it should serve to solidify a new sense of place in downtown Portsmouth and enhance the tourism experience.

What new advertising/marketing focuses are you implementing?

The City has recently designated a new Cultural Arts District in Historic Olde Towne Portsmouth that will provide a new focus on Portsmouth as an arts and entertainment destination for residents of Coastal Virginia and beyond. As urban cities across the country make the leap to create cultural arts districts, Portsmouth’s challenge is to create a district in an original town center—not contrived, and hopefully that is one of the characteristics that will differentiate our experience from some of our competitors.

What sort of attractions, amenities or infrastructure would you suggest to grow the tourism industry in your specific city or in Coastal Virginia as a whole? What are we missing?

Portsmouth has entered into a new partnership with the City of Norfolk to encourage cross-river visitation to both cities’ historic and cultural attractions. We see this kind of mutually-beneficial marketing as a key component of our overall marketing plans. In addition, Portsmouth needs increased hotel space; therefore, a boutique hotel or additional eclectic bed and breakfasts that offers a different experience from the waterfront hotel, will serve us well in our efforts to increase tourism.

 

Smithfield & Isle of Wight

Answers provided by Judy Winslow, Director of Smithfield & Isle of Wight Tourism.

What ROI does tourism bring in for your city/tourism market?

Greater than 6:1

Smithfield tourism

What new projects/developments are coming in the next year and beyond? How important are these projects/developments on visitation?

We are looking forward to the re-opening of the Smithfield Winery; the opening of SummerWind Vineyard; the opening of 757 Brewing Company; new events (Smithfield Boardwalk HeART Show, Monthly Picker’s Markets, St. Patrick’s Day Parade); having our new LOVE Works on display, our Crush Friday promotion to entice millennials to use their vacation days; and increased agritourism efforts. Our promotion is focusing on the “new” demographics … bucket listers, families and the unattached. As a smaller destination, introducing new product into the marketplace is a must to keep us competitive.

What new advertising/marketing focuses are you implementing?

With more than 52 percent of visitors to our site coming by way of mobile devices, we’re excited to be working on the redesign of our new mobile-responsive website. We were also one of just 20 tourism organizations across the state which were awarded a Crush Friday grant from Virginia Tourism Corporation. American workers left 662 million vacation days on the table last year. Crush Friday is a state-wide campaign aimed at Millennials, encouraging them to take a Friday off and spend it in Virginia! We’ll be creating a Crush Friday video, which we’ll promote on social media, and we’ll hold a special Crush Friday event on Friday, Aug. 3 (the night before our first Boardwalk HeArt Show).

What sort of attractions, amenities or infrastructure would you suggest to grow the tourism industry in your specific city or in Coastal Virginia as a whole? What are we missing?

I think Coastal Virginia continues to struggle with the absence of a regional identity and that having the entire region adopt the Coastal Virginia moniker will amplify our success in both tourism and economic development. I’m also concerned about the transportation infrastructure, including crowded roads and lack of public transportation, but I am encouraged by the recently approved lane additions.

 

Suffolk

Answers provided by Theresa Earles, Tourism Development Manager for Suffolk Tourism.

What ROI does tourism bring in for your city/tourism market?

Suffolk Tourism is a division of our city’s Economic Development Department. We approach tourism not just from a marketing and sales perspective but from a development mindset. We produce events, activities and festivals designed to enhance our citizens’ quality of life while simultaneously appealing to visitors. We work with local businesses on marketing programs and incentives. Suffolk Tourism also operates a year-round tour program, offering six different tours that attract locals and visitors alike. Revenue generated from admission, meals and lodging taxes support Suffolk’s General Fund which, in turn, funds core services such as education, fire, police, etc. According to the Virginia Tourism Corporation, in 2016 Suffolk’s visitors spent $71.1 million and generated $2,207,458 in local tax receipts and $4,040,245 in state taxes. Steady growth in Suffolk’s tourism equates to new development of product for locals and visitors to enjoy as Suffolk becomes more appealing to entrepreneurs, developers, relocating families and future employers.

Suffolk tourismMake Something Studio Suffolk

What new projects/developments are coming in the next year and beyond? How important are these projects/developments on visitation?

Suffolk is jumping into the craft beer revolution with the recent additions of Decent People Taproom and Brick & Mortar Brewing Company. A perfect complement to Suffolk’s award-winning, independently owned and operated restaurants, the new craft beer destinations offer additional outlets for entertainment and socializing.

The arts are experiencing a resurgence in Suffolk with the opening of One Past 7—a working and exhibition space for artists, This & That on Main, Twisted Art & More, Make Something Studio, which only enhance our established art attractions such as the Suffolk Art Gallery, Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts and Plum Crazy Art. Suffolk’s future promises to be excitingly artistic.

What new advertising/marketing focuses are you implementing?

As noted in the past, Suffolk successfully embraces niche markets. Whether our focus is on eco-adventure, culinary events or haunted history, we leverage our marketing dollars to attract very specific audiences. Suffolk Tourism is pleased to partner with the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts to present the 5th Annual Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival. A book festival like no other, the Aug. 4 event will feature headlining authors Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner plus 38 bestselling authors of mystery, suspense, horror, romance, paranormal and women’s fiction.

What sort of attractions, amenities or infrastructure would you suggest to grow the tourism industry in your specific city or in Coastal Virginia as a whole? What are we missing?

Coastal Virginia’s offerings are unparalleled. It is difficult to say that anything is missing, although I’m sure many would argue we’re lacking a professional sports team. For Suffolk, our growth in the tourism industry will be best served by connecting our rural and urban attractions within our expansive 430 square miles.

 

Virginia Beach

Answers provided by Brad Van Dommelen, Director of Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau.

What ROI does tourism bring in for your city/tourism market?

In our most recent Advertising ROI Study it demonstrated that for every dollar we invest in tourism advertising we generated $67.84 in visitor spending and further generated $3.44 in local tax revenue. Tourism activity in Virginia Beach produces $1.49 billion in direct spend in our local businesses. It’s important to understand that these are new dollars added to our economy as visitors bring these dollars with them from outside our region and leave them in our local economy and then go home with their memories—and local purchases. This tourism activity also contributed nearly $60 million in local tax dollars to help support vital city services and our schools.

Virginia Beach tourismConceptual rendering of the sports center.

What new projects/developments are coming in the next year and beyond? How important are these projects/developments on visitation?

There are several new and exciting projects that are being discussed including the development of the old Dome site into an exciting mixed-use retail and entertainment experience, the development of a new pier as a public extension of our existing boardwalk and the development of a new indoor sports center near the existing Convention Center to support the growth of our sports tourism market as a venue to host major tournaments. As a tourism destination, projects like these are critically important to keep our destination relevant and competitive to maintain the economic benefits, and quality of life for our residents, that tourism activity brings to our community.

What new advertising/marketing focuses are you implementing?

An area of focus for our organization is to build more brand awareness of Virginia Beach as an exciting coastal city with a great beach experience and not as just a “beach town.” With Town Center’s continued development, our growing craft beer scene, excellent culinary experiences and our arts and cultural offerings, we are promoting the year-round experiences that Virginia Beach has to offer.

What sort of attractions, amenities or infrastructure would you suggest to grow the tourism industry in your specific city or in Coastal Virginia as a whole? What are we missing?

When national association meeting planners look at destinations to bring their conventions, they prefer, and oftentimes are under a mandate, that the destination has headquarter hotel product adjacent, or directly connected, to the convention center. While Virginia Beach offers an excellent Convention Center and has great hotel product throughout the city, we are lacking a headquarter convention hotel tied to our Convention Center. This is a gap in our product that is causing us to lose valuable convention business that would be coming to our destination in the non-summer months where we have the greatest opportunity to grow our tourism volume. Headquarter hotel product is differentiated from most other hotel development due to the fact that it attracts net new business to the market and not just directly competes with existing hotel inventory for current business volume. The Virginia Beach Convention and Visitor Bureau is in the process of having a market analysis completed to more fully understand this need.

 

Williamsburg

Answers provided by Karen Riordan, President and CEO for the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance.

What ROI does tourism bring in for your city/tourism market?

We use an ROI calculator of $8 for every $1 invested in tourism promotion

Williamsburg tourism

What new projects/developments are coming in the next year and beyond? How important are these projects/developments on visitation?

Year of Anniversaries:

  • 50th Anniversary of African American Students at the College of William & Mary
  • 10th Anniversary of Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Williamsburg
  • 100th Anniversary for Women at the College of William & Mary
  • 40th Anniversary of Loch Ness Monster at Busch Gardens Williamsburg
  • Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance 80th
  • An Occasion for the Arts in October 50th Anniversary
  • New construction for the Art Museums at Colonial Williamsburg opening in 2019

What new advertising/marketing focuses are you implementing?

Personalization of our brand message over all platforms, increasing web content, working with social influencers, social media and public relations efforts.

What sort of attractions, amenities or infrastructure would you suggest to grow the tourism industry in your specific city or in Coastal Virginia as a whole? What are we missing?

We continue to focus on the development of trails to help people understand the depth of cool experiences available in our destination including biking trails, beer wine and spirit trails and history trails, all to help our visitors easily navigate the experiences that they are aware of and those that we know will appeal to them.

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