CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - New numbers released from the Charlottesville-Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau are showing the big dollar impact of tourism in Charlottesville and Albemarle County, with tourism accounting for $680 million in revenue for 2019.
What tourism will look like at the end of this year remains uncertain.
“It’s really tough to say how long it’ll take for things to get completely back to normal, a lot of that is going to depend on the progress we make in combating the virus. I think when a vaccine is available, then things may start to slowly return to normal, but it’s really anybody’s guess as to when we’ll see things pre-COVID," said Brantley Ussery, director of marketing and public relations for the bureau.
In Albemarle County and Charlottesville, tourism spending accounted for more than $22 million in tax collection last year.
That money comes from breweries and wineries, restaurants and hotels, weddings, concerts and other things that were closed or cancelled due to COVID-19.
Even though the peak season will be nowhere close to what it was last year, the industry is expected to receive increased support from nearby visitors as the year goes on. Ussery said visitors helping revive the area’s tourism will likely be those who live six or less hours away.
“The type of visitor that we’re going to get this fall is probably going to be a little more local and regional than we may otherwise see but we have high hopes that with the beautiful weather and the fall foliage and the outdoor opportunities that people will be still be encouraged to visit and enjoy this beautiful destination in the fall.”
The bureau said different business and local jurisdictions are preparing to welcome visitors back as safely as possible for the fall season by limiting capacity or moving things outdoors.
Although Ussery could not give an exact amount of money lost from the tourism industry since this start of the pandemic, he said the journey to economic recovery will likely be long and slow.