|By Angela Manese-Lee, The Roanoke Times, Va.McClatchy-Tribune Business News |
Dec. 1--Most people who have been stuck in game day traffic don't need a study to tell them about the stream of New River Valley tourists -- the bumper to Hokie-stickered-bumper congestion is evidence enough.
But what about the stream of tourist dollars?
The Virginia Tourism Corporation recently released an economic impact study that estimates domestic travelers spent more than $91.4 million in Montgomery County last year.
The figure, which takes into account transportation, lodging, food, entertainment and recreation spending, represents a 7.5 percent increase from the estimated $85 million spent in 2004.
Shane Adams, president and chief executive officer of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, said there are at least three things contributing to that rise.
"One is the chamber's new focus on tourism," Adams said. "Another factor has been Virginia Tech has been very successful in not only their sports program, but in research and other programs. And I think we've had a pretty good economy nationally and tourism has increased across the country, especially drivable tourism, which is what we do."
In the past four years, the chamber has tried to play more of a role in regional tourism, answering calls from potential visitors and suggesting local attractions. Last year, Adams also began coordinating a more official tourism campaign, funded by recent 1 percent increases in hotel occupancy taxes in Christiansburg, Blacksburg and Montgomery County.
Thus far, the chamber has received about $150,000: about $85,000 from Christiansburg and roughly $65,000 from Blacksburg. It is putting the money toward advertising and promotion.
Adams, who is also the chamber's tourism director, said the group continues to work with the localities on a contract for the tourism initiative, which could give it steady funding and establish a local tourism development council.
Perhaps that may help Montgomery County fare better in comparison to Roanoke, Roanoke County and Wythe County in future studies.
According to the Virginia Tourism Corporation's 2005 estimates, travelers spent $297.93 million in Roanoke, $116.14 million in Roanoke County and $95.36 million in Wythe County. Across the state, domestic travelers spent nearly $16.5 billion.
Copyright (c) 2006, The Roanoke Times, Va.
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