County’s total leads region, remains fifth highest in Virginia
Visitors spent $963.5 million in Henrico County during 2018, the highest total of any locality in central Virginia and the fifth highest in Virginia, according to an annual study for the Virginia Tourism Corp.
Tourist spending in Henrico jumped by 5.2% over 2017, exceeding the statewide rate of 4.4 percent. Among Virginia localities, tourism spending in Henrico followed the totals for the counties of Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun and the city of Virginia Beach. The totals reflect spending on food, lodging, transportation, entertainment, retail and other services by travelers from the United States who had stayed overnight in paid accommodations or had taken day or overnight trips at least 50 miles from home.
“Henrico County is pleased to roll out the welcome mat for tourists and other visitors,” County Manager John A. Vithoulkas said. “Tourism is quickly becoming a billion-dollar industry for the county, which is great news for residents, businesses and our amazing quality of life. That’s why we were excited by the recent announcement that the NTT IndyCar Series will return to Richmond Raceway next June and why the county is exploring the development of an indoor sports and convocation center to enhance our robust sports tourism program. Every dollar spent by visitors at hotels and other businesses ripples through our local economy, providing jobs for residents and much-needed support for schools, public safety and other local services.”
In 2018, tourism in Henrico supported more than 8,700 jobs with a combined payroll income of $233.4 million. It also generated tax receipts of $29.1 million for the county and $35.3 million for the state.
Overall, Virginia attracted $25.8 billion in visitor spending, which supported 234,494 jobs and provided about $1.8 billion in state and local taxes. Henrico and seven other localities in central Virginia combined to attract nearly $2.6 billion in visitor spending, supporting more than 24,000 jobs with a payroll of about $590 million.
Henrico attracts leisure travelers as well as national and regional tournaments through Visit Henrico County, an initiative launched in 2013. With visithenrico.com and a smartphone app, visitors can plan their activities, including where to stay, eat and shop.
Henrico’s parks and sports complexes hosted 170 tournaments and other events in 2018, generating an estimated $54 million in local spending, according to the Division of Recreation and Parks. More than 180 tournaments are expected in 2019.
Officials estimate that Henrico missed capturing an additional $33 million in annual spending because it does not have a venue for indoor sports. The county is pursuing such a venue through a request-for-proposals process.
In addition to its array of historic sites and sports complexes, Henrico’s attractions include the Dominion Energy Charity Classic, which will be held Oct. 17-20 and is on the PGA Tour Champions; the Virginia Capital Trail and connector trail to Dorey Park; Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden; and the Dabbs House and Meadow Farm museums.
The United States Travel Association compiled the tourism data for the Virginia Tourism Corp. More information is available at vatc.org.