Annual Visitors in 2017
Source: Longwoods INTERNATIONAL
Direct travel related expenditures in 2017
SOURCE: LONGWOODS INTERNATIONAL
Tax Revenue (2016)
Source: US TRAVEL
Supported in 2016
SOURCE: US TRAVEL
How Does Tourism Work for You?
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DISCRETIONARY SPENDING Revenue AllocatIONS
hotel, amusement, restaurant, parking/events taxes support schools, open spaces and more.
frequently asked Questions
How does tourism benefit the City of Virginia Beach?
The travel and tourism industry is a major economic driver for our city. In 2016, tourism contributed $1.49 billion in direct spending to local businesses. In turn, this spending generated more than $132 million in state and local tax revenue.
Tourism impacts our community in other ways. Tourism directly supports more than 13,600 jobs in Virginia Beach and nearly $278 million in salaries. Those employees use their wages to purchase goods and services, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, healthcare and entertainment.
In 2016, visitors to Virginia Beach spent an average of $4.1 million every day, which calculates into a total of $1.49 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, $15 million of 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 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.
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.
What People Say About Tourism
Mayor Will Sessoms
State of the City Address 2017
Virginia Beach Surf & Rescue Museum