County’s total leads in central Virginia, remains fifth highest in state
Henrico County captured $879.6 million in spending by domestic travelers during 2016, the most of any locality in central Virginia and the fifth highest in Virginia, according to a newly released study for the Virginia Tourism Corp.
Tourist spending in Henrico rose by 3.2 percent over its total for 2015, tracking with the statewide increase of 3.3 percent. Among Virginia localities, tourism expenditures in Henrico trailed only those for the counties of Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun and the city of Virginia Beach.
The tourism expenditure totals reflect spending on food, lodging, transportation, entertainment, retail and other services by travelers from within the United States who had stayed overnight in paid accommodations or had taken day or overnight trips at least 50 miles from home.
In 2016, tourism in Henrico supported about 8,500 jobs with a combined payroll income of $214.4 million. It also generated tax receipts of $27.6 million for the county and $33.1 million for the state.
Overall, Virginia attracted $23.7 billion in visitor spending, which supported about 229,300 jobs and provided nearly $1.7 billion in state and local taxes. Regionally, Henrico and seven neighboring localities combined to attract $2.4 billion in visitor spending, accounting for nearly 24,000 jobs and a payroll of $544 million.
“Tourism is a major driver of Henrico’s and our region’s economies,” County Manager John A. Vithoulkas said. “By staying in our hotels, eating in our restaurants and supporting other businesses, visitors contribute directly to our high quality of life. Their spending supports jobs and investment, and it helps to fund a variety of public services, including schools, parks and public safety.”
Henrico launched the Visit Henrico County initiative in 2013 to attract leisure travelers as well as national and regional tournaments to county athletic fields and complexes. The visithenrico.com website and a smartphone app help visitors plan where to stay, shop and eat, and what to do.
In 2016, Henrico’s parks and sports complexes hosted 135 tournaments and other events, which generated an estimated $46.1 million in local spending, according to the Division of Recreation and Parks.
In addition to its many historic sites and sports complexes, the county’s attractions include Richmond Raceway, the site of NASCAR’s Virginia529 College Savings 250 on Friday, Sept. 8 and the Federated Auto Parts 400 on Saturday, Sept. 9. Other visitor-friendly sites include Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Three Lakes Park and Nature Center, and the Dabbs House and Meadow Farm museums.
The U.S. Travel Association compiled the tourism data for the Virginia Tourism Corp. Its report, The Economic Impact of Domestic Travel On Virginia Counties 2016, is available at vatc.org.