Youngkin, the Governor of Virginia, Reveals 10 Communities in the State to Unveil Novel Tourism Programs.

Governor Glenn Youngkin recently announced that 10 communities in Virginia will launch new tourism programs aimed at boosting the outdoor recreation economy. According to the governor’s office, each community will receive up to $20,000 through the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s “DRIVE” outdoor grant program. The grant supports the expansion of entrepreneurship across the Commonwealth and targets outdoor product development. The governor’s office said the grant will support the federal outdoor and recreation industry, which contributed $9.4 billion to Virginia’s economy in 2021.

The Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) will use the funds earned for development projects that have an immediate impact on outdoor recreation offerings for upcoming summer trips. Projects include rental and equipment opportunities for the development and expansion of outdoor recreation, events, or the purchase of new outdoor recreation equipment for research. The participating communities will gather information from current travel data, trends and research as well as hear from citizens and stakeholders to attract new travelers and boost economic activity. The “DRIVE” outdoor community has funded organizations in Bristol, Charlottesville, Albemarle County, Floyd County, Giles County, Harrisonburg, Rockbridge Regional, Nelson County, Isle of Wight, and Waynesboro, Virginia.

Commerce Secretary Karen Merrick said, “A growing outdoor economy will drive job creation and private investment, further strengthening Virginia as an outdoor destination, and providing endless opportunities for outdoor-focused tourism partnerships.” This program is based on the “DRIVE” 2.0 statewide strategic plan to enhance outdoor recreation, developments, assets and entrepreneurial opportunities within Virginia. After participating in the program, the community has a foundation for a competitive outdoor product development plan, including specific action steps, success factors, timelines, priorities, and identifying partners to help the project succeed.

Rita McCleney, president and CEO of the Virginia Tourism Corporation, said, “These new outdoor recreation projects are a great opportunity for millions of people to enjoy each year in Virginia. Offering unparalleled outdoor experiences, these community-developed projects will further cement our reputation as the premier destination for outdoor enthusiasts.” An executive at the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention Visitors Bureau, Director Courtney Kakatian, said, “This funding will allow us to address key gaps in our destinations and improve the outdoor experience for all residents and visitors.” The next “DRIVE” Outdoor will open in summer 2023. If you’re interested in learning more about Virginia’s many outdoor products, click here.

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