The Business of Tourism: Virginia Beach

by Ryan Miller

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

What new projects/developments or changes in business practices are coming in the next year and beyond? How will these projects/developments impact visitation?
The Virginia Beach CVB is in the process of doing an internal reorganization in our Marketing and Communications division where we are adding more staff to enhance our in-house capabilities that will enable us to be more efficient and quicker to market with our messaging. We are also growing our advertising spend to increase our reach and frequency in our core markets to build brand awareness and gain consideration as a travel destination as well as growing our messaging in new markets.

What new advertising/marketing focuses are you implementing?
In addition to the information above we are also implementing our passion platform marketing strategy to develop content around experiences that visitors can enjoy in our destination with a focus on elements such as culinary, craft beer, culture, outdoor recreation, history and more.

What are your largest challenges and obstacles? Who is your competition?
One of our challenges is to build our brand awareness as a year-round destination for not just domestic and international leisure travelers but for meetings, conventions, group tour and participatory sports. Virginia Beach is a vibrant coastal city with many exciting experiences to enjoy throughout the year—and we offer a great beach experience as well. We view our primary competition for leisure travel as any coastal community along the Atlantic coastline. Our competition in the meetings and amateur participatory sports industries span the country as cities continue to build new state-of-the-art product to attract those market segments.

What does tourism mean to the City of Virginia Beach? How does it affect local taxes, and how does it affect our quality of life? How does it help drive our local economy, jobs and the quality of our schools and education system?
In 2015 tourism generated $1.4 billion in visitor spending, directly supported nearly 13,000 jobs and generated $122 million in state and local taxes. Beyond the significant financial benefits of tourism to Virginia Beach, by bringing new dollars to our community that are earned elsewhere and deposited in our local businesses, our local residents enjoy an enhanced quality of life by having amenities that they can enjoy that likely would not be sustained without tourism’s contribution. The tax dollars that are generated from tourism help keep local property taxes lower and support many other community services such as parks, police, schools and more.

Do you feel that the cities of Coastal Virginia sufficiently work together to boost tourism? If not, how do you think that the relationships among cities could improve?
Coastal Virginia offers incredible product and exciting visitor experiences. And while at some level we compete with each other I believe we all agree that creative collaboration that supports the entire region is good for all of us. Coastal Virginia Tourism Alliance is an organization that is established for the benefit of our region’s tourism industry, and we are exploring opportunities, through this organization, to strengthen our region’s tourism impact.

How does Virginia Beach work with other regional partners to sell the region to visitors?
The Visit VirginiaBeach website and Virginia Beach vacation guide features a robust Coastal Virginia section, highlighting all that the region has to offer—from family attractions to historic destinations that complement a beach vacation.

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