The Blue Ridge Parkway Association (BRPA) has received $20,000 from the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s (VTC) Recovery Marketing Leverage Program (RMLP), designed to help local and regional tourism entities attract more visitors by leveraging limited local marketing dollars through a local match of the state grants funds.
More than $1.9 million in matching grant funds were awarded to 161 local tourism initiatives through this program. This funding cycle, local partners will provide more than $5.6 million in-kind value to match the VTC grants. The grants will ultimately impact 483 statewide tourism entities.
BRPA will use the VTC Recovery Marketing Leverage grant funds to market to motorcyclists in northern states within a day’s drive of Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Not only will BRPA advertise Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway, but it will also highlight several off-Parkway motorcycle routes such as Claw of The Dragon, Appalachian Backroads, and Back of the Dragon, among others.
“Traveling on the Blue Ridge Parkway is an ideal destination during this time of social distancing,” said Rosa Lee Jude, President of the Blue Ridge Parkway Association. “Creating a strong targeted marketing program to showcase the communities around the Parkway is a great way to help generate more tourism revenue. These grant funds will help BRPA to do that and hopefully lead to a stronger 2021.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the tourism and hospitality industries in Virginia. As the Commonwealth slowly reopens for business, VTC offered these grant funds as a first step to re-entry into the marketplace to spur economic activity and future travel across the Commonwealth of Virginia.
“Tourism is a crucial section of the Virginia economy and when we invest in this industry, we support local job creation and drive regional economic growth, which is desperately needed now due to the pandemic,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “These funds give localities and businesses access to critical marketing resources that will help bring more travelers to our Commonwealth, increase visitor spending, and grow demand for Virginia products.”
Tourism is one of the Commonwealth’s largest economic engines, with about one third of the almost 15 million visitors to the Blue Ridge Parkway in 2019 traveling through portions of Virginia and supporting the local communities while stopping for food, fuel, lodging, amusement and souvenir purchases along the way. The tourism and hospitality industries have been among the hardest-hit by the pandemic, experiencing decreased revenue and job loss, along with the temporary closure of many tourism-related businesses. A revived tourism economy can help spur new economic activity and inject critical funds back into Virginia communities.
The Blue Ridge Parkway Association was established in 1949 to market the communities from the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia to Western North Carolina and the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Consisting of approximately 450 members from small businesses to large attractions, it hosts the premier website and mobile app for the Blue Ridge Parkway region and publishes a 100-page travel planner with an average annual distribution of 300,000 throughout the US and Canada.