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Tourism pays: Southwest Virginia generates nearly $1 billion in travel

Steve Igo • Updated Sep 22, 2015 at 11:57 AM

ABINGDON — Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced Monday the Southwest Virginia region generated over $971 million in travel expenditures in 2014 during remarks at the Southwest Virginia Creative Economy Conference in Abingdon.

“These numbers demonstrate how important the tourism industry is for diversifying the economy in Southwest Virginia. Visitors who are coming to our wonderful communities are spending money and making businesses viable, which is helping to build a creative, new Virginia economy in the region and the commonwealth as a whole,” the governor said.

According to the Virginia Tourism Corp.’s 2014 Economic Impact Report, Southwest Virginia has witnessed a 50 percent increase in total travel expenditures in the region since 2004. Last year over $43.6 million in local meals and lodging revenue was generated from travel expenditures in the region.

More than 9,750 jobs exist in Southwest Virginia due to tourism, according to the report, an increase of 560 jobs since 2004.

“Southwest Virginia is blessed with many assets that visitors love to experience, from music, art, culture and heritage to outdoor recreation,” said state Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones.

“I commend the region for taking a team approach to developing a comprehensive economic development strategy. The areas with the strongest teams will be the ones that win.”

The region’s Creative Economic Conference in Abingdon has been highlighting the region’s outdoor recreation, natural assets, crafts and traditional music as the stepping stones for Southwest Virginia’s growing creative economy.

McAuliffe was the opening speaker on Monday at the two-day conference that wraps up today at Heartwood: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Getaway facility in Abingdon.

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