Rise in state tourism dollars reflected in increased Surry County tax revenue

By: Terry Harris | Email: Click Here
Posted: September 17, 2019 | 3:45 p.m.

SURRY – Tourism revenue for the state of Virginia increased in 2018 to a staggering 26 billion dollars, supported 235,000 work opportunities for Virginia communities and contributed $1.8 billion in state and local taxes, according to Data recently released by the United States Travel Association (USTA).

“Virginia’s tourism industry had a banner year in 2018, hitting new records and making important impacts on our communities across the Commonwealth,” said Rita McClenny, president and CEO of Virginia Tourism Corporation, in a prepared statement. “As we celebrate … the tourism industry’s continued growth this year, we also celebrate the people who impact and influence our communities with their vision, passion, and love for the tourism industry. Our industry is made up of creative, hard-working, and dedicated professionals, and they work every day to make our communities more vibrant and dynamic. They help to make Virginia the best place to live, work, and visit, and are our most powerful ambassadors…”

One of those ambassadors, Surry County Tourism Coordinator Pat Bernshausen, related that official state reports indicate that tourism was a critical contributor to the Surry County economy in 2018, as local tourism expenditures reached $10,655,769.00, a 3.3 percent increase over 2017. Further, local tourism-supported jobs totaled 100 while Surry County’s tourism-related tax revenues were $307,424.00, based on domestic visitor spending from trips taken 50 miles or more away from home.

“We are always excited to see our numbers increase!” said Bernshausen, who continues in her sixth year as DMO (Destination Marketing Organization) after assuming the full-time position as Tourism Coordinator upon its creation in December of 2018. “$307,424.00 is a substantial amount of tax revenue derived directly from tourism spending in Surry. As tourism businesses expand, new businesses open, and new product and experiences become available, I am sure that we will continue to see growth in these areas.”

“I’m thankful that our Board of Supervisors understands that tourism is, in fact, economic development,” she added, “and that they have seen fit to provide additional resources towards the pursuit of product development and tourism marketing.”

Bernshausen attributes part of the rise in tourism dollars to the continued increase in mobility, more sophisticated technology, and changing demographics making travel demand at an all-time high as travelers seek unique experiences in their leisure time, and view travel as an important factor for their quality of life.

Pack Brothers Hospitality, one of many local businesses directly affect by the growth in tourism in 2018, operates Surry Seafood Company and Marina, a four-room hotel, a 100 seat restaurant and 45 slip marina. Speaking of this, their first year in operation, Randy Pack said, “It is such a beautiful setting on Gray’s Creek where daily we watch the Bald Eagles fish and otters play in our lily pad-rich, cypress tree lined creek. Our local base economy is tremendous, and only bolstered by the free ferry from Jamestown that literally brings visitors almost to our door.  We have seen exceptional growth this year, as renovations were recently completed on the 45 slip marina that was partially funded by Virginia’s Boating Infrastructure Grant… We see big things happening here and hope to be a part of Surry County for a very long time!”

County Administrator Jonathan Lynn, speaking on increased recognition and tax dollars for Surry County from growing tourism said, “The Surry County community takes pride in showcasing all that we have to offer residents and visitors alike with what ranges from historic buildings documenting the birth of our nation, a vibrant state park with public beach access, seasonal you-pick farms, a full sense of community pride, and more. We hope to continue the momentum of our Tourism Coordinator’s efforts to promote Surry and increase our visibility throughout Hampton Roads and the rest of the Commonwealth.”

Copyright 2019 by Womack Publishing
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