Tourist spending in Henrico climbs to $783.6 million

Henrico County captured $783.6 million in spending by domestic travelers during 2013, the most of any locality in central Virginia and the fifth most in Virginia, according to data from the U.S. Travel Association.

Tourist spending in Henrico increased by 5 percent for the second consecutive year — well above Virginia’s increase of 1.4 percent. Similarly, the state’s top four destinations for tourist spending — the counties of Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun and the city of Virginia Beach — saw their expenditure totals increase by less than 2 percent or decrease slightly, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

“The secret is out,” County Manager John A. Vithoulkas said. “Henrico has long been a preferred choice among homeowners and businesses. Now, more visitors are discovering all that makes Henrico special, including its parks and recreational amenities, historic sites and abundant shopping.”

Henrico’s expenditure total reflects spending on food, lodging, transportation, entertainment, retail and other services by travelers from within the United States who had taken day or overnight trips at least 50 miles from home.

In 2013, tourist spending in Henrico supported more than 7,800 jobs with a combined payroll of $184.5 million, and it generated tax receipts of $23.8 million for the county and $28.2 million for the state. Overall, Virginia attracted $21.5 billion in visitor spending, which supported nearly 213,000 jobs and provided more than $1.4 billion in state and local taxes.

The U.S. Travel Association compiled the data for the Virginia Tourism Corp. Its report, The Economic Impact of Domestic Travel On Virginia Counties 2013, is available at vatc.org/research/economicimpact/.

Henrico has worked to boost tourism in recent years by launching the Visit Henrico County campaign to attract leisure travelers as well as youth and adult recreational sports tournaments. A website, VisitHenrico.com, and a smartphone app help visitors plan where to stay, shop and eat, and what to do.

This month, about 1,000 Civil War reenactors from across the country will come to Henrico to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Battle of New Market Heights. The free event, featuring battle reenactments and living history exhibits, will be held Sept. 27-28 at the Runnymede property adjacent to the Malvern Hill site of the Richmond National Battlefield Park, 8750 Willis Church Road.

In addition to its many historic sites and sports complexes, Henrico’s attractions include Richmond International Raceway — the site of two NASCAR races per year — as well as Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Three Lakes Park and Nature Center, and the Dabbs House and Meadow Farm museums.

“Tourism is another growth industry and a smart investment for Henrico,” Vithoulkas said. “Visitors support our hotels, restaurants and other businesses, and they have minimal impact on public services. Every dollar spent by a tourist helps to maintain low taxes and high-quality services in Henrico.”