Tourism As an Economic Driver
Tourism is an important industry and a strong economic driver within the Commonwealth. It promotes the quality of life for a community by enhancing its public image as a dynamic place to live and work and is important to the economic health of a community.
The term ‘tourism’ is a commonly used one – usually in reference to someone visiting a place other than their hometown, and partaking in what that new area has to offer, from food to lodging to entertainment. In LYH, we, however, view tourism more holistically. In recent years – and especially since the pandemic – the concept of being a ‘hometown tourist’ has started to gain popularity. We believe that tourism encompasses all of these definitions – and it also includes making a place that is attractive for someone to both visit and live, set up shop, conduct their business and contribute to the local economy. Simply put, tourism is economic development.
“Tourism is often referred to as the “first date” for economic development, but our team believes tourism is part of the continuum of community economic development, driving investment and benefit for visitors, residents, and businesses,” said Marjette Upshur, Director of Economic Development & Tourism. “We believe that when you build a City where people want to live, you have built a City where talent is drawn to work. If you build a City where people want to work, you will have built a City where business needs to be. And if you build a City where business needs to be, you will build a City where people have to visit.”
By the Numbers
When we’re looking at revenue, it’s helpful to understand where tourism dollars go. Tourism primarily supports the business sectors of food & beverage, lodging, transportation, retail, and recreation. In the City of Lynchburg, tourism jobs comprised 3,307 of our local employment in 2021 and 3,245 jobs in 2020.
Even though the above sectors are the primary tourism industries, all businesses and residents benefit from tourism as travel and local exploration drives direct wages, income, and expenses through the economy. LYH tourism industries drove $22.7 million in state & local revenues in 2021 and saved each LYH household about $776 in annual state & local tax collections in 2021.
Source: The Economic Impact of Domestic Travel on Virginia Counties 2021 – prepared for the Virginia Tourism Corporation by the US Travel Association, September 2022; LYH Annual Reports
Sales and Travel
The traditional view of tourism includes a lot of travel – things like meetings and conferences, sporting events, and group tours or travel. These are still a huge part of our holistic approach to tourism and generate large economic impacts for our City.
As a result of efforts in FY 22, the City of Lynchburg secured 60 groups/events across all our target sectors – sports, meetings and conferences, and group travel with an estimated economic impact of $10.94 million.
Since FY 21, the Office of Economic Development & Tourism has secured:
- FY 2021 – 28 groups/events at $3.25 million
- FY 2022 – 60 groups/events at $10.94 million
- FY 2023 through April – 66 groups/events at $14.85 million
Special events encompass a wide array of activities, including races, festivals, and other community engagement events such as Day in the Park. While many special events were put on hold or canceled altogether during the pandemic, the climate of special events permitted through the City of Lynchburg has seen steady growth across all sectors throughout the current fiscal year. In FY 22, we permitted 40 events with nearly $1.5 million total in business sales generated. For example, annual events like the Virginia Ten Miler have made Lynchburg their home and create over $800,000 in business sales here in the city. With nearly 50 years of community, national, and global support, the Virginia Ten Miler plays a major role in tourism and fostering community in LYH – one of America’s most runner-friendly communities.
Special events not only serve as economic drivers for the City of Lynchburg, but also drive placemaking, enhancing the City’s diverse identity through community outreach and inclusion at events like Hill City Pride, Soul Food and Funk Festival, and Get Downtown. These events attract both residents and visitors, positioning the City as a destination and also potentially drawing new talent to the area.
The Office of Economic Development & Tourism is committed to making LYH a place where businesses, residents and visitors can thrive. Our sales and marketing team, along with our special events coordination, work in tandem with our local business community to continue to share the message that LYH Loves You, LYH Supports You, and LYH is Home to You.
Want to learn more? Contact one of our staff below.
Andrew Marks, Sales Manager
Emelyn Gwynn Light, Communications Manager
Mauresa Nenadovich, Special Events Coordinator