The Virginia Tourism Corp. is showing some love for Fredericksburg and the surrounding counties through its new WanderLove Recovery Grant Program.
The program is distributing $866,504 to 90 destination marketing organizations around the state to fund recovery initiatives in spots hurt financially by the coronavirus pandemic. Locally, the towns of Culpeper and Colonial Beach, along with the counties of Orange, Stafford, Spotsylvania and Westmoreland received $10,000 each. King George County received $8,243.50 and Fredericksburg received $4,800.
“Tourism is one of the largest sectors of Virginia’s economy, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the industry,” Gov. Ralph Northam said when he announced the grants recently. “Travel will look different for as long as this virus is with us, and many Virginians are seeking getaways that are closer to home.”
VTC’s WanderLove campaign launched on June 15 and provides travel inspiration for road trips, outdoor recreation, hidden gems, small towns and its signature LOVEworks program. The campaign was created in response to industry research indicating that travelers will be seeking safe, close-to-home destinations that allow for social distancing and have access to open spaces such as beaches, outdoor recreation and rural experiences. Grant recipients will be given creative assets and a toolkit to implement WanderLove in their own marketing.
Recovery marketing funds were awarded to marketing organizations that have been heavily impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Danelle Rose, Fredericksburg’s tourism manager, said the city’s WanderLove campaign could get folded into a larger marketing effort that will be funded by $208,000 of the roughly $2.5 million the city received through the federal CARES Act. Meridian Group, a Virginia Beach-based marketing group, will create a marketing campaign using the CARES Act funds to show that businesses in the 22401 ZIP Code are open and ready for customers.
The city’s WanderLove campaign will be more tourism-oriented and will feature the WanderLove logo, she said. It will highlight such things as historic Kenmore and Olde Towne Carriage Tours, attractions such as the Fredericksburg Area Museum, which opens Saturday, and tours such as those Trolley Tours of Fredericksburg will provide when it resumes operations Aug. 7. The city’s Visitor Center also just reopened.
Spotsylvania County Tourism will use its WanderLove grant funds to promote the county as a tourist destination that offers opportunities to connect with the outdoors through its scenic walking trails in the county’s historic battlefields and at Lake Anna State Park.
“Spotsylvania is a hidden gem—full of places to explore, learn about history, relax and enjoy,” Debbie Aylor, Spotsylvania Director of Tourism, said in a news release.
King George County will use its grant in a marketing campaign with a “Take the Back Roads” theme to promote its local gems.
“People want to get out of the house to travel, but do it as safely as possible. A short road trip to a state park, or some recreational outdoor location is very appealing right now and King George has some of the best locations in the region,” Nick Minor, the county’s Economic Development and Tourism director, said in a news release.
The Northern Neck Tourism Commission, the town of Kilmarnock in Lancaster County and Middlesex County also received $10,000 each from the WanderLove Recovery Grant Program.
The NNTC will use the money to promote road trip itineraries to historic sites, small museums, wineries, restaurants and lodging. Promotion will be through a tourism brochure for the region that includes Westmoreland, Richmond, Northumberland and Lancaster counties, as well as through the website northernneck.org.
Kilmarnock and Middlesex will use the funds to promote similar itineraries within the “Virginia River Realm,” a promotional and regional tourism effort which includes the town and county on either side of the Rappahannock River and uses the website virginiasriverrealm.com.