This news release is from the previous Governor's administration.
For Immediate Release: March 7, 2016
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Brian Coy, 804-225-4260, | Virginia Tourism Corporation: Caroline Logan, 804-545-5572,

Governor McAuliffe Announces Matching More Than $812,000 in Tourism Grants

~Program will generate $3.4 million in marketing initiatives~


39 local tourism programs to receive public-private marketing dollars to bolster economy; grants will impact at least 153 statewide tourism entities 

Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today that more than $812,000 in matching grant funds will be awarded to 39 local tourism initiatives as part of Virginia Tourism Corporation’s (VTC) Marketing Leverage Program. The grants are designed to help local and regional tourism entities attract more visitors by leveraging local marketing dollars and will ultimately impact at least 153 other statewide tourism entities. The local organizations match the state grant funds by a minimum of 2:1 in order to support marketing projects. This funding cycle, the local partners will match the VTC grant dollars with more than $2.6 million, providing more than $3.4 million total in new marketing to increase visitation to Virginia. 

Speaking about today’s announcement at an event in Richmond, Governor McAuliffe said, “Tourism is an industry that provides enormous opportunity to grow, diversify and build a new Virginia economy.  The Marketing Leverage Grant program is designed to spur job creation, economic development, and visitor spending through new or enhanced tourism products.  These grants are proven to increase visitation by creating marketing partnerships and effective marketing programs.” 

Research shows that every VTC dollar invested in grants resulted in $16 of direct visitor spending. Marketing campaigns that received Marketing Leverage Grants increased visitation by 15%. 

Tourism is an instant revenue generator for Virginia. In 2014, tourism generated $22.4 billion in revenue, supported 217,000 jobs and provided $1.5 billion in state and local taxes. Dollars invested in tourism are proven to provide a 5:1 return in tax revenue for Virginia, and the grant awards and matching funds provide a stimulus to localities seeking to increase tourism visitation and revenue. 

VTC’s Marketing Leverage Program is designed to increase visitor spending by leveraging limited marketing dollars, stimulating new tourism marketing through partnerships, and extending the “Virginia is for Lovers” brand.  A minimum of three Virginia entities must partner financially to apply for a grant.  Partners may consist of Virginia cities, towns, counties, convention and visitors bureaus, chambers of commerce, other local or regional destination marketing organizations, private businesses, museums, attractions, cultural events, and other not-for-profit entities.  In total, VTC awards approximately $1.7 million annually - matched and leveraged on average 3:1 by partner dollars. 

“The Marketing Leverage Program grants support tourism product development and marketing in every part of the Commonwealth and contribute to the economic health of our communities,” said Maurice Jones, Secretary of Commerce and Trade. “These public-private partnerships will help attract visitors to Virginia who will spend money in our cities and towns to support job growth.” 

Details on the grant awards are below. The next round of VTC Marketing Leverage Program grants will open in April 2016. Localities interested in applying may visit for more information. 

Program Name

Lead Partner

Award Amount

Smith Mountain Lake 50th Anniversary

Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce


Holiday Lights at the Beach and Santa's Seaside Village



Richmond Ballet "The Nutcracker: in Norfolk and Richmond, VA

Richmond Ballet


Kids Trail in Shenandoah Valley

Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum


Highland Retreat/Conference Center: Be in Highland

The Highland Center


Gateway to Centennial Celebrations at Shenandoah National Park

Luray-Page County Chamber of Commerce


Alleghany Highlands Heritage Day

Masonic Theatre Preservation Foundation


Barrels, Brews & Byways

Shenandoah County


Virginia Cheese Festival Marketing Expansion

The Blacksburg Partnership


Winter Blues Jazz Fest

Quirks of Art


Upper James River Water Trail

James River Association


Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello

Thomas Jefferson Foundation Inc


Turn the Page: The First Ten Years of Hi-Fructose

Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art


Rooster Walk Music and Arts Festival

Rooster Walk Inc


History, Served with Art and Oysters

Northern Neck Tourism Commission


Thomas Jefferson Craft Beer Tasting

Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest


Visit Culpeper Website Design and Build

Town of Culpeper Tourism and Economic Development


Historic Smithfield Plantation Marketing Expansion

Historic Smithfield Plantation


Uniquely Bristol Marketing Initiative

Bristol Convention & Visitors Bureau


Tom Tom Founders Festival

Tom Tom Founders Festival


Spring Forward to Virginia's Blue Ridge

Roanoke Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau


Rockingham County - Strategic Marketing Program

Rockingham County


Experience Galax: a Place for Art, Music, Craft and Tradition

Chestnut Creek School of the Arts


Spotsylvania County Promotional Videos

Spotsylvania County


89th Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival


Olde Towne Portsmouth Brand Identity, Blog, and Promotion

Olde Towne Business Association


Paint the Town

Virginia Highlands Festival


LATAM Air Service to Washington Dulles International Airport

Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority


NVVC 2016 Canada Program

Visit Alexandria


Public Relations and Native Advertising Campaign

Abingdon Convention and Visitors Bureau


Get Your Motor Running

Heart of Appalachia


2016 Visit Richmond International Raceway

Richmond International Raceway


Birthplace of Country Music - Unbroken Circle Marketing Initiative

Birthplace of Country Music


Mountains of Music Homecoming - New Audiences

The Crooked Road


Destination Dayton

The Dayton Market


Virginia Arts Festival's 20th Season Celebration

Virginia Arts Festival


Rassawek Spring Jubilee 2016

Rassawek Vineyards


Wilderness Road Group Tour Program

Wilderness Road


Visit Shenandoah

Shenandoah Valley Travel Association