Two kayakers on the Clinch River in the summer

PRESS RELEASE: Visitor spending reached $1.2 billion in Southwest Virginia in 2022

Virginia reached $30.3 billion in visitor spending, returning to pre-pandemic levels

ABINGDON, Va. – (Friday, September 29, 2023) – Visitor spending in Southwest Virginia reached $1.2 billion, a nearly 10 percent change over 2021. Tourism-supported jobs in Southwest Virginia totaled 11,499 while local tourism-related taxes were $59.5 million.

According to the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC), tourism in Virginia generated $30.3 billion in visitor spending in 2022, an increase of 20.3% from 2021, exceeding 2019 levels by 4.4%. Statewide the tourism industry in Virginia directly supported 210,721 jobs in 2022, an increase of more than 25,000 jobs relative to 2021, but still down about 30,000 jobs relative to 2019. All data is from Tourism Economics and is based on visitor spending from trips taken 50 miles or more away from home.

“Southwest Virginia’s growth in direct visitor spending, with nearly a 10 percent increase over 2021, reflects the region’s enduring appeal and the dedication of our local tourism partners,” said Kim Davis, Executive Director of Friends of Southwest Virginia. “Visitor spending in our region has surged beyond pre-pandemic levels, showing a remarkable 16% increase compared to 2019. These figures serve as a powerful reminder of the essential role tourism plays in driving our state’s economic well-being. Collaborating with our regional tourism partners, we are committed to showcasing the natural beauty and cultural richness of Southwest Virginia, strengthening our region as a top-choice destination for travelers from near and far.”

The leading tourism sectors throughout Virginia are recreation and food and beverage, which have exceeded 2019 levels by 10%. Transportation, specifically air travel, has had a slower rebound but was the fastest growing tourism sector in 2022, aiding the Commonwealth’s regions that are more dependent on-air travel. With the additional marketing dollars that came through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, Virginia and its localities continued to see growth in visitor spending.

Friends of Southwest Virginia plays an important role in this endeavor, serving as the destination marketing organization for the entire Southwest Virginia region, which includes 19 counties, four independent cities, and 53 towns located on the southern and western border of Virginia.

“Our team works closely with local and regional tourism partners to promote Southwest Virginia’s natural beauty, outdoor recreation, and cultural assets,” continued Davis.  “Tourism in Southwest Virginia is crucial as it not only infuses vital economic revenue into the region but also showcases its unique natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and vibrant communities to the world. By attracting visitors from far and wide, tourism helps sustain local businesses, create employment opportunities, and fosters a deeper appreciation for the diverse and picturesque landscapes that define the heart of our region.”

For more information on Virginia’s Economic Impact of Travel and to learn more about the Impact of Visitors across Virginia’s locations click here:

About Friends of Southwest Virginia

Southwest Virginia includes 19 counties and four independent cities located near the southern and western border of Virginia. The Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Commission, established in 2008 by the Virginia General Assembly, takes the lead in developing a creative economy in Southwest Virginia. In 2011, the Commission became the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation, a self-sustaining community development organization with support from the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Through a supporting non-profit, the Friends of Southwest Virginia, businesses and individuals help artists, crafts people, localities, nonprofits, and entrepreneurs mobilize and succeed. To learn more, visit