ABINGDON, Va. (WJHL) – The Barter Theatre received $10,000 from the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s Recovery Marketing Leverage Program, aiming to help local and regional tourism groups attract more visitors by using limited local marketing dollars through a local match of the state grants funds, officials announced Wednesday.
Over $1.9 million in matching grant funds were awarded to 161 local tourism initiatives through the program, according to a release from Barter Theatre. This funding cycle, local partners will provide more than $5.6 million in-kind value to match the VTC grants. The grants will ultimately impact 483 statewide tourism entities, the release detailed.
Barter Theatre will use the VTC Recovery Marketing Leverage grant funds to pay for digital marketing efforts and website optimization targeted at bringing new visitors to the Abingdon and tri-cities area, officials explained.
“Abingdon is very grateful for the marketing support from Virginia Tourism Corporation. Barter Theatre is an important asset for Abingdon and we are thrilled that they were included in the VTC’s Recovery Marketing Leverage Program.” said Amada Livingston, Tourism and Marketing Manager for the town of Abingdon.
According to the release, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the tourism and hospitality industries in Virginia. As the Commonwealth slowly reopens for business, VTC offered these grant funds as the first step to re-entry into the marketplace to spur economic activity and future travel across the Commonwealth of Virginia.
“Tourism is a crucial section of the Virginia economy and when we invest in this industry, we support local job creation and drive regional economic growth, which is desperately needed now due to the pandemic,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “These funds give localities and businesses access to critical marketing resources that will help bring more travelers to our Commonwealth, increase visitor spending, and grow demand for Virginia products.”
Tourism is one of the Commonwealth’s largest economic engines, with visitors to Washington County spending more than 112.92 million in 2019, supporting 1.18 thousand work opportunities, and contributing 7.81 million in local and state tax revenue. The tourism and hospitality industries have also been among the hardest-hit by the pandemic, experiencing decreased revenue and job loss, along with the temporary closure of many tourism-related businesses, the release detailed.