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Artwork in front of the Virginia Welcome Center on Interstate 95 in Fredericksburg seeks to woo tourists.
By Chelyen Davis
Tourists spent more money in Virginia in 2011, with travel expenditures statewide rising 8 percent over 2010.
Fredericksburg-region localities also saw an increase in tourism spending over the previous year.
According to a report prepared by the U.S. Travel Association for the Virginia Tourism Corporation, tourists generated $20.4 billion in revenue in Virginia in 2011.
That supported more than 200,000 jobs--both full- and part-time--and a rise in tourism employment of nearly 2 percent. Tourists generated more than $1.3 billion in state and local tax revenue. The report estimated that every $98,567 tourists spent in Virginia directly supported one job.
The report's figures were based on per-person trips taken more than 50 miles from home.
"These new figures highlight the importance of continuing to invest in tourism as an instant revenue generator for Virginia," said Gov. Bob McDonnell in a release touting the new figures. "I've made tourism a key part of my administration's economic development initiatives, and it's encouraging to see the positive return on investment."
Arlington County had the highest amount of travel spending, around $2.7 billion. It was followed by Fairfax and Loudoun counties.
The city of Fredericksburg saw $153 million in tourism spending in 2011, an 8 percent increase over 2010. Those tourists accounted for $5.6 million in city tax revenues, a 3 percent increase over 2010.
Locally, Orange had the largest percentage increase in tourism spending--10 percent, for expenditures of $42 million, and $1.2 million in local taxes.
King George came in next for the percentage of increase; tourists spent $19 million in the county in 2011, a 9.5 percent increase. That accounted for $55,000 in local tax revenue, a 4.4 percent increase.
Spotsylvania and Stafford saw smaller percentage increases than other area localities but larger expenditures.
Tourists spent $229 million in Spotsylvania, a 6.2 percent increase, and $110 million in Stafford, a 5.4 percent increase. That accounted for $4.4 million in local revenues in Spotsylvania and $3.3 million in Stafford.
Statewide, of the $20 billion tourists spent, $5.6 billion went to food services; $4.9 billion to auto transportation; $3.8 billion to lodging; and $2.8 billion to public transportation.
The spending on auto transportation was a 20 percent increase, largely attributable to the rise in gasoline prices, said the report.
The 207,000 jobs directly related to tourism equate to 5.6 percent of the state's total non-farm employment in 2011. The largest group of those jobs, more than 80,000, were in the food industry.
Chelyen Davis: 540/368-5028