County poised for further growth, with development, enhanced focus on sports tourism
Visitors spent more than $1.3 billion in Henrico County during 2021, the highest total of any locality in central Virginia and the fifth highest in Virginia, according to an annual study released today for the Virginia Tourism Corp.
The total included sales of $329 million on food and beverage, $185 million on lodging, $151 million on retail, $131 million on recreation and $552 million on transportation. Overall, spending by tourists and other visitors to Henrico jumped by nearly 46% from 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic continued to limit travel.
“Tourism is absolutely booming in Henrico County and the region,” County Manager John A. Vithoulkas said. “It brings customers to our hotels, shops, restaurants and other businesses, and their spending helps to fund education, public safety and other local services. Our community is poised for even greater growth with development continuing, sports tourism thriving and plans underway for a 17,000-seat arena at GreenCity that will attract major sporting events and concerts.”
Vithoulkas added, “As our new Henrico Sports & Entertainment Authority says, it truly is ‘Showtime. All the time!’”
Statewide, spending by visitors totaled $25.2 billion in 2021. Among localities, Henrico followed the totals for the counties of Loudoun, Arlington and Fairfax and the city of Virginia Beach. The totals reflect spending by travelers who had stayed overnight in paid accommodations or had taken day or overnight trips at least 50 miles from home.
Tourism in Henrico supported more than 8,700 jobs with a combined payroll income of nearly $424 million in 2021. It also generated tax receipts of about $61 million for the county and $33 million for the state.
Henrico and seven other localities in the region combined to attract $2.8 billion in visitor spending, supporting more than 23,000 jobs with an annual payroll of about $911 million.
In 2021, Henrico hosted 160 outdoor tournaments that generated nearly $60 million in local economic activity. Construction is underway on a 185,000-square-foot center that will be able to accommodate indoor events, such as basketball and volleyball tournaments plus high school graduations, concerts and other gatherings. The Henrico Sports & Events Center, targeted to open next fall at Virginia Center Commons, is being built through a partnership between the county and Rebkee Co., which is redeveloping the former mall property with housing, retail and other uses. Henrico has missed capturing as much as $33 million in annual spending by not having a venue for indoor sports, according to county estimates.
Tourism Economics compiled the data for the Virginia Tourism Corp. More information is available at vatc.org.