Staunton Tourism Campaign Wins “Best in Show” Award
City of Staunton Press Release
The city of Staunton is winning praise again, this time from some of the toughest and most knowledgeable folks around – tourism experts from around the state.
The VIRGO Travel / Tourism Awards Program is organized by the Virginia Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus (VACVB). This awards program recognizes and celebrates the state's best destination marketing programs.
The "Best in Show" Award was presented to Staunton at the VACVB spring meeting in Hampton. According to VACVB officials, 38 of the Commonwealth's best tourism programs were nominated, and Staunton's integrated marketing, advertising, public relations campaign was picked by its peers for the 2012 "Best In Show" award.
"I think it was Staunton's strong brand – integrated in print, online, and publicity – which, when combined with great results they achieved, really caught the attention of all the other CVBs" said Brian Gorg, Operations Manager for the VACVB.
"Come for the culture. Stay for the local vibe" is a multi-channeled campaign that helps brand Staunton as a distinctive, arts-rich community. The integrated campaign includes print and online advertising, website, social media, and public relations components.
"The city's thriving local culture, local food, and local music scenes are all helping put Staunton on the must-see list for visitors to Virginia," says Sheryl Wagner, Staunton's Director of Tourism.
Despite the nation's weak economy, Staunton has performed relatively well, reports Wagner.
In 2011, Staunton lodging taxes increased +9.5% over the previous year.
American Shakespeare Center was up +15% over the prior year.
The RR Smith Center for History and Art recorded a +17% increase in visitation.
Sunspots Studios saw a +15% jump from the previous year.
Organizers say that attendance at the classical Staunton Music Festival jumped more than +25% in 2011.
"We're seeing a jump with online visitors as well. In 2011, we saw an increase of 8.2% in traffic to our website over 2010, and we have a huge and growing community of active Facebook and social media users," says Wagner.
Wagner adds that recent feature articles, like those in Smithsonian and Preservation magazines, as well as accolades such as "One of the Best American Main Streets" from Travel + Leisure magazine, are bringing increasing national exposure and credibility to the queen city.
Tourism is one of Virginia's most powerful industries. The U.S. Travel Association calculated that in 2010, the Virginia tourism program generated $18.9 billion in visitor spending. On a local level, data provided by the Virginia Locality Economic Impact report indicates that the economic impact of tourism in Staunton was $44,392,687* in 2010. (2011 figures have not been released yet.)