Southwest Virginia gets $2.7 million share of state marketing money | Appalachian Highlands

RICHMOND — Eight locations in southwestern Virginia will see $320,000 in state assistance to attract visitors to regional tourist destinations.

The matching grants, from the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s regional marketing and leverage marketing programs, were announced by state officials on Tuesday as part of National Travel and Tourism Week.

State officials said the grants are part of a $2.7 million package of statewide awards to 215 local and regional tourism-related groups for 259 events and destinations.

In Lee, Scott and Wise and Norton counties, six grants totaling $145,000 went to:

• High Knob Outdoor Festival in Norton: $5,000

• Pennington Gap/Lee County Outdoor Entertainment Events/Lee County Tobacco Festival: $30,000

• The “One week stay. A month. “One Life” campaign with Scott County Tourism, Gate City and Natural Tunnel State Park: $20,000

• Clinch River Festival/Pack your bags and go to Saint-Paul tonight: $30,000

• Streams and Strings/Appalachia Backroads in St. Paul: $30,000

• Blue Highway Festival/Heritage Music Week at Big Stone Gap: $30,000

The Ralph Stanley Museum in Clintwood will receive $10,000 to market the museum honoring the nationally acclaimed bluegrass artist.

The partnerships in Bristol and Abingdon will see six grants totaling $165,000 on the market:

• Bristol Rhythm and Roots: $25,000

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• “Discover Bristol’s Winter Wonderland/Bristol Is for Entertainment Lovers”: $30,000

• “Southwest Virginia – Visit a Different Side of Life” campaign: $20,000

• The Barter Foundation’s “Stay and Play in Abingdon” campaign: $20,000

• The 93rd Annual Virginia Highlands Festival in Abingdon: $30,000

• William King Museum of Art exhibitions “The Long Rifle in Virginia” and “The Open Road: The Art of the Motorcycle”: $20,000

Grants were awarded to partnerships between localities, chambers of commerce, tourism-related marketing organizations, private businesses, various tourist attractions and destinations. Recipients will match the $2.7 million TCV grant round with $12.4 million in total.

The grants are expected to generate more than 125,000 room nights over the next 18 months by increasing tourist room nights in Virginia.

Scott County Tourism Director Pam Cox said Tuesday that the county typically sees about 59% of its tourist visitors as overnight stays and nearly 38% as day trippers. The county award will contribute to the overall goal of the program.

“We would like to convert at least 5% of these day trippers to overnight visits,” Cox said. “It’s always about bringing extra dollars to our region. And with this new promotion, we are entering the digital market with ad placement on streaming services in new markets like Knoxville, Sevierville and Chattanooga.

While the Knoxville-Sevierville-Chattanooga area is about a two-hour drive from Scott County, Cox said the number of visits from there isn’t that great. The VTC grant will help improve marketing there, she added.

“Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in Virginia,” Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Commerce Caren Merrick said Monday, “and it is imperative that we are able to market the abundance of experiences of travels across the Commonwealth, inviting new travelers to discover for themselves why Virginia is for lovers.

Another round of VTC Leverage Marketing Program grant applications will open in mid-2022. Interested organizations and businesses can visit online at www.vatc.org for more information.

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