CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The tourism industry in the Commonwealth was booming. In 2019, visitors spent $27 billion in Virginia. Then, the pandemic hit.
Now, new funds could help businesses most impacted get back on their feet while welcoming tourists back safely.
From theatres to parks and museums, the economic drop-off has been significant. That’s why the news of receiving up to $20,000, unsurprisingly, led to reactions like Susan Krischel’s.
“Oh, we were thrilled,” Krischel said. "We were thrilled.”
She is the executive director at the Ix Art Park Foundation in Charlottesville, which is one of 161 local tourism initiatives, including Monticello and the TomTom Foundation, to receive funding from the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s Recovery Marketing Leverage Program.
“People I think are afraid to get on planes, afraid to get on trains, but they want to get out of their houses,” Krischel said. "So they’re looking for destinations that they feel are safe.”
But many activities have been sidelined because of both safety and financial challenges.
“Tourism has been deeply hurt by this pandemic,” Krischel said.
She hopes these funds can help bring people together safely through the unifying love of art.
"We have a tremendous amount of creative artists who live in this town and work in this town and I think this is a great opportunity to perhaps present Charlottesville in a new light.”
With the $20,000 Ix Art Park received, it plans to promote 2021 art events to markets in Richmond, Washington, D.C., and Raleigh. Those events will feature collaborations with area hotels and other art organizations.