PRESS RELEASE: Friends of Southwest Virginia Receives Virginia Tourism Corporation DMO WanderLove Recovery Grant for Tourism Marketing

July 23, 2020

Contact: Jenna Wagner
Deputy Director
Friends of Southwest Virginia
Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation
(276) 492-2400

Friends of Southwest Virginia Receives Virginia Tourism Corporation DMO WanderLove Recovery Grant for Tourism Marketing

Friends of Southwest Virginia has received $10,000 from the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) DMO WanderLove Recovery Grant Program, a new grant made available to Virginia’s Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) across the Commonwealth that have been heavily impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic to fund recovery marketing initiatives. $866,504 in marketing grant funds were awarded to 90 Destination Marketing Organizations as part of the DMO WanderLove Recovery Grant program.

“When determining our campaign and choosing our feeder markets, we have paid close attention to regions with rising COVID-19 cases and will market the region according to the ever-evolving research and changing landscape to ensure both the continued success of the creative economy in Southwest Virginia while balancing the health and safety of the region,” said Chris Cannon, Friends of SWVA Executive Director.

Friends of SWVA is encouraging visitors and locals to embrace their inner WanderLOVE while keeping the region safe and secure during the COVID-19 crisis.

Gear up and prepare for your next adventure to Southwest Virginia! Being in the midst of Summer, and with Fall rapidly approaching, road trips are in! Explore one of the many communities of Southwest Virginia and take one or all of 6 exciting road trip itineraries to satisfy your cabin fever. Whether you’d like to enjoy a relaxing getaway in a luxury cabin, backpack on the trail, shop and dine in our small towns, or explore our rich cultural heritage, we have an option just for you!

“Being a regional destination, visitors can experience a wealth of adventure on a trip to Southwest Virginia. A journey through SWVA is nothing short of awe-inspiring, with unexpected stops along the way. The aforementioned itineraries and road trips to the region incorporate a variety of options that the whole family will love. Whether traveling with a group or individually, there is something for everyone in Southwest Virginia. The WanderLOVE potential in SWVA is great and we’re excited to incorporate the campaign into our existing marketing programs, public relations opportunities, email campaigns, podcasting, content opportunities, and more!” said Friends of SWVA Deputy Director, Jenna Wagner.

As Virginia begins reopening, there is a lot of pent-up demand for leisure travel and people are seeking safe, close-to-home destinations that allow for social distancing and access to open spaces. With this in mind, the WanderLove campaign provides travel inspiration for road trips, outdoor recreation, hidden gems, small towns, and Virginia’s signature LOVEworks program.

“Virginia tourism is a critical sector of our economy and has been heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “Getting travelers back on the road and spending money in our cities and towns is one of the fastest ways to inject dollars back into our economy and our communities. The Virginia Tourism Corporation’s DMO WanderLove Recovery Grants gives localities the ability to market their destination as safe and welcoming when visitors are ready to resume travel.”

Tourism is one of the Commonwealth’s largest economic engines, with visitors to Southwest Virginia spending more than $1,086,486 in 2018, supporting 10,246 work opportunities and contributing $76,020,002 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. A revived tourism economy can help spur new economic activity and inject critical funds back into Virginia communities.


About Southwest Virginia:
Tucked in the mountains of Southwest Virginia is a vibrant culture of music, craft and stunning natural beauty. It’s a region of spectacular views and rich natural resources. Time spent in the region adds up to something much more than a simple getaway. A different side of Virginia. And a great place to visit for a week’s vacation – or to make a home for a lifetime. Authentic. Distinctive. Alive.

Follow SWVA
Facebook| Twitter| Instagram| YouTube| Snapchat: southwestva | Website

About the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation and Friends of Southwest Virginia:
The Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation is the coordinating body for cultural heritage tourism and economic development efforts fostering Southwest Virginia’s creative economy. Through a supporting non-profit, the Friends of Southwest Virginia, the combined entities help localities, businesses, individuals, artists, nonprofits and entrepreneurs mobilize and succeed.

A multifaceted plan identifies the cultural and natural assets of the region; coordinates initiatives, organizations and venues engaged in cultural and natural heritage toward more efficient operations for all partner organizations; and develops a comprehensive strategy and capital improvements plan to maximize the impact of state investments in this significant restructuring effort.

 For more information about the Friends of Southwest Virginia, visit

About Virginia Tourism Corporation
Virginia Tourism Corporation is the state agency charged with marketing the Commonwealth as a premier travel and film destination. In 2018, visitors to Virginia spent $26 billion, which supported 234,000 work opportunities and contributed $1.8 billion in state and local taxes. In 2019, Virginia is for Lovers celebrates its 50th anniversary. To learn more, visit