Virginia's Tourism Industry Continues to Boom

Aug 26, 2019

Tourism is booming in Virginia. And, the forecast for the next decade is also strong.

It’s been 50 years since the Virginia State Travel Service came up with the slogan “Virginia Is For Lovers.” And ever since then, the tourism and hospitality sector in Virginia has been going strong, with only one year of temporary decline back in 2009 during the recession.

Virginia Tourism Corporation Board Chairwoman Susan Payne says the economic impact of travel in Virginia has grown from about $1 billion back in 1969 to $26 billion today.

“Not only does it bring about tourism activities such as places to visit and beer and wine and travel," Payne says. "But it also creates a quality of life which increases economic development in the state of Virginia.”

Kyaw Khine at the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service says the industry has some gender imbalances: Women tend to be more prevalent in sectors like hotel housekeeping while men tend to dominate positions like chef and head cook. 

“Apparently, these occupations may have different wages that can create gender imbalances within the tourism and hospitality sector,” Khine explains.

Khine also says that the percentage of white workers in the industry is on the decline, with a rising percentage of Hispanic and Asian workers — especially in hotels, food preparation and hospitality.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.