|By Peter Bacque, Richmond Times-Dispatch,
Va.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Oct. 15, 2011--Tourism in the Richmond region generated $1.75 billion in visitor spending, supported 19,840 jobs and provided $52 million in taxes in 2010, according to the Richmond Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The figures represent a 7.9 percent increase compared with 2009, the bureau said.
"Despite challenging times, tourism continues to remain a powerful economic engine not only for the country and for Virginia, but for the Richmond region as well," said Jack Berry, president and CEO of the convention and visitors organization.
The local increase can be traced to the area's diverse attractions, its central location in the populous East Coast and increased international marketing, the bureau said.
Within the capital region, all the localities saw increased tourism revenues compared with their 2009 totals, it said.
Visitor spending increased 8.9 percent in the City of Richmond, 8.4 percent in Chesterfield County, 7.7 percent in Hanover County, 7.1 percent in Henrico County and 4 percent in New Kent County.
For the year through August, hotel revenue per available room in the Richmond-Petersburg area was up 7.7 percent, compared with the same period last year, according to the bureau.
Tourism is one of the state's largest industries. In 2010, visitors to Virginia generated $18.9 billion in revenue, a 6.7 percent increase compared with 2009, according to the Virginia Tourism Corp., the state's travel and tourism promotion agency.
Tourism in Virginia also supported 204,000 jobs, the state tourism agency reported, and provided more than $1.3 billion in state and local taxes in 2010.
The agency receives state and local annual economic impact data from the United States Travel Association.
"Tourism is an instant revenue generator both for the commonwealth and for localities," said Alisa Bailey, president and CEO of the Virginia Tourism Corp. "Tourists contribute greatly to Virginia's tax revenue and drive the demand for more jobs in hotels, restaurants, stores, attractions and businesses in every community."
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