Tourism is the one of the largest industries and economic instruments in the city.
Tourism contributes to the environmental and cultural well-being of Virginia Beach.
Meetings and conventions bring big business to our city.
Tourism brings people together like no other industry.
Million Annual Visitors
Billion Direct Travel Related Expenditures
Million in Local & State Tax Revenue
Hotel, amusement, restaurant, parking/events, taxes, support schoools, open spaces and more.
Funding from the city’s Tourism Investment Program Fund is primarily generated by the spending from out-of-town visitors.
The TIP Fund was created on July 1, 2011, by combining two existing funds:
Visitors do not send their children to our schools, however, the Virginia Beach Public School System receives substantial annual funding from tourism activity.
Critical city services including roads and road improvements, fire, police and emergency services also receive generous funding derived from visitor revenue.
The Open Space Program provides a solid foundation for our outdoor park system and has helped us to foster public/private partnerships, environmental stewardship, economic development and healthy lifestyles throughout our community.
All of our park spaces acquired through the Open Space Program provide recreational activities for both citizens and visitors alike to enjoy. Some of the most popular activities that attract visitors to our parks are fishing, boating and team sports. These are all year-round activities that can help bolster tourist visits outside the prime summer months. There are more than 265 city parks and outdoor play areas for both visitors and local to enjoy.
As one of the largest industries and economic instruments in the city, tourism plays a pivotal role in encouraging growth and funding initiatives that enhances our local community. While some projects are designed to attract tourists in support of this major business sector, these projects also provide an enhanced quality of life for residents; the amenities are available for local use without citizens having to fund them (except through the discretionary restaurant and admissions taxes).
Where the Revenue is Allocated?
While some projects are designed to attract tourists in support of this major industry, these projects also provide an enhanced quality of life for the residents; the amenities are available for their use without having to fund them (except through the discretionary restaurant tax).
The travel and tourism industry is a major economic driver for our city. More than 19 million visitors chose Virginia Beach over all other destinations in 2017. Those visitors contributed $2.45 BILLION in direct spending to local businesses. In turn, this spending generated more than $136 million in state and local tax revenue.
Tourism impacts our community in other ways. Tourism directly supports more than 13,850 jobs in Virginia Beach and nearly $290 million in salaries. Those employees use their wages to purchase goods and services, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, healthcare and entertainment.
In 2017 visitors to Virginia Beach spent an average of $6.7 million every day, which calculates into a total of $2.45 BILLION in directed travel-related expenditures. The money invested into our local economy by visitors circulates throughout our economy several times over, providing an ongoing economic impact that would disappear entirely without tourism.
Visitors also pay taxes. Transaction taxes collected from visitors include accommodations tax and fees, meal tax, and admissions tax. These taxes support vital city services. It is not uncommon for some visitors to decide to relocate here and purchase a home. Other visitors secure investment properties and/or second homes.
Many businesses throughout Virginia Beach benefit from a balance of customers that include both visitors and residents. This includes retail outlets, grocery stores, entertainment venues and transportation providers. Ultimately, these tourism-dependent businesses need other services which are paid for in part by tourist dollars.
Likewise, employees in the tourism industry use their wages to make purchases throughout the city. Even though a business may not think of itself as benefitting from tourism, the indirect benefits of tourism impact nearly every type of business in our city.
Visitors don’t use many city services that they help support, such as city schools. Visitors don’t send their children to our schools, yet in 2017 $5 million in tourism-related taxes went to our public school system.
Companies love to hire employees from the travel industry thanks to the skillsets they learn: customer service, communication skills, teamwork and conflict resolution. While it is true that tourism does create hourly jobs, it also supports and sustains an overlooked corps of managers and other professionals that play an integral role. What are often overlooked are the management jobs that are a part of the tourism industry. We see registration desk staff and housekeepers, but don’t always notice the managers, supervisors, accountants and marketers that work in a hotel or resort. We see wait staff, bartenders and cooks but don’t notice the team of managers, chefs, accountants and supervisors that are needed to run a restaurant.
Beyond the direct employment within businesses that serve visitors the impact of tourism spreads well beyond the traditional definition of tourism. Many industries exist to support businesses within the tourism industry: advertising agencies, accounting firms, distributors, furniture makers, textile manufacturers and more. To learn more, click here.
Tourism promotion in Virginia Beach is actually funded by hotel taxes paid by visitors and a portion of discretionary restaurant taxes. The funding does not come from the General Fund, however, public funding of tourism promotion is quite common. In fact, most tourism destinations invest far more public funds in destination promotion than private funds, with many destination marketers receiving 70% or more of their funding from public funds.
Public funds are typically used to promote a destination such as Virginia Beach. Individual businesses are responsible for marketing their own business, but destination marketers must first create interest in visitation before an individual business can effectively market itself. From an industry perspective, this is no different than the Department of Education promoting their advanced education programs or the Department of Commerce promoting business opportunities in our state.
There’s no doubt that Virginia Beach is fortunate to be home to exceptional amenities and attractions, most notably our beaches and coastal culinary offerings. And while most visitors who choose to vacation here rank the beach as the a big draw, our research confirms that the non-beach amenities — restaurants, attractions, parks, entertainment venues, retail outlets, etc. — are what differentiates our destination and make it so popular and diverse. Without these amenities, we cannot compete for tourism dollars that help to sustain business, create jobs and support vital city services.
To build the appeal of the destination, the non-beach amenities must be effectively marketed. Visitors who have never been to Virginia Beach are often surprised to learn just how much the area offers. Where else can you be on a gorgeous beach in the morning, a u-pick farm in the afternoon and a vibrant Town Center for happy hour and dinner? All within about 15 minutes of each other!
The business of tourism is very competitive. If we discontinued promotion efforts, other destinations would happily capture our visitors. Other destination have tried cutting out promotion efforts only to find a significant drop in tourism that hurt their economy. They have returned to their promotion activities and even increased their investment above prior levels.
Smart marketing builds the awareness and desirability of a vacation destination. Once the consumer is interested in visiting, individual businesses can then begin to market themselves to these visitors. Destination marketing is essential to growing and sustaining tourism.
With the help of funds raised from taxes generated by guests to our beach, I get to live the life that makes Virginia Beach my year-round destination. There is no admission fee for the beach. It is essentially one big public park for everyone to enjoy.
Tourism is a win/win because tourism is about sharing. The traveler shares a small and very important part of their life with the community they visit. That community, in return, shares their food, their culture, their history; what makes them special. Make these connections lasting and you build an economy that never stops growing.