RICHMOND, Va. (WFXR) – At the start of National Travel and Tourism Week, Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced that 259 local and regional tourism programs — including dozens around southwest and central Virginia — will be awarded more than $2.7 million in matching grant and reimbursable sponsorship funds.

Officials say these public-private marketing funds are part of the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s (VTC) Marketing Leverage Program (MLP) and Regional Marketing Program (RMP), which are designed to leverage local marketing dollars with matching state funds to increase visitation and traveler spending.

During this funding cycle, the governor’s office says that local partners will commit more than $12.4 million to match the VTC funding, providing more than $15 million in new marketing activity. Then, the funding will be awarded to 215 local and regional tourism entities, impacting 259 programs and more than 1,000 combined partners.

“Tourism is a major economic driver for the Commonwealth of Virginia, providing and creating good jobs and injecting critical dollars back into our communities,” said Youngkin. “Virginia’s tourism industry has been unrelenting in its recovery efforts, developing innovative and best-in-class strategies to bolster the economy. These grant funds will help continue that momentum, further underscoring that Virginia is open for business and is the best place to live, work, and travel.”

According to a statement released by Youngkin’s office on Monday, May 2, the VTC’s MLP is designed to increase visitor spending by leveraging limited marketing dollars, stimulating new tourism marketing through partnerships, and extending the “Virginia is for Lovers” brand. 

“Using the hub and spoke tourism model, six Virginia entities partner financially to apply for funding,” Monday’s statement said. “Partners may consist of Virginia cities, towns, counties, convention and visitors’ bureaus, chambers of commerce, other local or regional destination marketing organizations, private businesses, museums, attractions, cultural events, and other tourism-related businesses.”

Meanwhile, the VTC’s RMP was reportedly created through legislation sponsored by state Sen. Tommy Norment in order to help Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) drive overnight visitation, as well as supplement funding for economically significant special events and festivals to increase overnight visitation. The DMO special events and festivals funding is expected to drive more than 125,000 room nights over the next 18 months.

“Virginia Tourism’s Marketing Leverage and Regional Marketing Programs provide the tourism industry with the tools they need to succeed and thrive in an incredibly competitive landscape,” said Caren Merrick, Secretary of Commerce and Trade. “Tourism is a multibillion-dollar industry in Virginia, and it is imperative that we are able to market the abundance of travel experiences across the Commonwealth, inviting new travelers to discover for themselves why Virginia is for Lovers.”

According to officials, the next round of the VTC’s MLP will open in the next few months while the next round of the RMP will open in early 2023. Organizations and businesses that are interested in applying should follow this link to find more information.

The following localities, organizations, and events around southwest and central Virginia are included among the VTC 2022 grant funding recipients:

  • $5,000 for Academy Center of the Arts’ “Blackwater Music Festival” in Lynchburg
  • $5,000 for Across the Way Productions, Inc.’s “FloydFest 2022: Heartbeat” in Floyd
  • $5,000 for Appomattox for Equality’s “Juneteenth Celebration” in Appomattox
  • $10,000 for Balloons Over Rockbridge’s “Balloons Over Rockbridge Hot Air Balloon and Music Festival” in Lexington
  • $20,000 for Beaver Dam Farm Sunflowers, LLC’s “Beaver Dam Farm Sunflower Festival” in Buchanan
  • $19,590 for Bedford Tourism’s “Destination Bedford Disc Golf”
  • $5,000 for Blue Mountain Barrel House and Organic Brewery’s “Road Trip to Nelson 29” in Afton
  • $5,000 for Blue Ridge Crossroads Economic Development Authority’s “Blue Ridge Crossroads Regional Tourism Campaign” in Galax
  • $20,000 for the Central Virginia Business Coalition’s “Building Bedford” in Forest
  • $10,000 for the City of Galax’s “Galax DMO”
  • $45,000 for City of Salem Tourism’s “Bike Carvins Cove/Sale Fair/Summertime Fun in Salem”
  • $10,000 for Danville Museum of Fine Arts and History’s “Share What You Love: Weaving together Danville’s Story”
  • $20,000 for Danville Office of Economic Development’s “Visitors Guide/City of Danville and Pittsylvania County”
  • $15,000 for Floyd County’s “Calling All Outdoor Enthusiasts”
  • $10,000 for the Galax Fire Department’s “HoustonFest”
  • $10,000 for Galax Moose Lodge #733’s “86th Old Fiddlers Convention”
  • $5,000 for Glencoe Mansion, Museum, and Gallery’s “Mary Draper Ingles: The Journey Home” in Radford
  • $29,945 for Grayson County’s “The OLD, the NEW, the HIGHEST, and YOU/Share the Music, Share the Adventure, Share What You Love” in Independence
  • $5,000 for the Halifax County Chamber of Commerce’s “Virginia Cantaloupe Festival” in South Boston
  • $21,000 for the Halifax County Department of Tourism’s “Halifax County Field Trips/Taste of HalifaxVA” in South Boston
  • $20,000 for the Highland County Chamber of Commerce’s “Highland County Maple Festival” in Monterey
  • $2,650 for the Historical Society of Western Virginia’s “A New Look at Link” in Roanoke
  • $5,000 for JBR Vineyards, LLC’s “Stay, Play, Dine, Wine” in Radford
  • $10,000 for Lexington and Rockbridge Area Tourism’s “Wanderlove: Rocking Rockbridge Summer Six” in Lexington
  • $10,000 for Lime Kiln Arts, Inc.’s “Summer Concert Series” in Lexington
  • $5,000 for Mount Rogers Regional Partnership’s “Quality of Life Campaign” in Wytheville
  • $5,000 for the National D-Day Memorial Foundation’s “National D-Day Memorial Web Redesign” in Bedford
  • $20,000 for Nelson County’s “Nelson County Dark Skies Trail and Nelson WinterMarkt”
  • $25,000 for Pulaski County’s “Play Outside/Pulaski County’s Sounds of Summer”
  • $2,350 for Ride Gravista LLC’s “Gravista 2023” in Lexington
  • $5,000 for River Rock Entertainment, Inc./Dr Pepper Park at the Bridges’ “Dr Pepper Park Summer of Fun” in Roanoke
  • $20,000 for Roanoke City Parks and Recreation’s “Go Outside Festival”
  • $10,000 for Roanoke Outside Foundation’s “Blue Ridge Marathon/Down by Downtown”
  • $20,000 for Roanoke Valley’s “Summer Adventures in Virginia’s Blue Ridge” in Roanoke
  • $10,000 for Rooster Walk Inc.’s “Rooster Walk 12 Music & Arts Festival” in Axton
  • $30,000 for Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce’s “SML Data Driven Targeted Digital/Smith Mountain Lake Wine Festival/Now That You’ve Found Us, Come Back and Explore” in Moneta
  • $10,000 for the IRONMAN Group’s “IRONMAN 70.3 Carilion Clinic Virginia’s Blue Ridge” in Roanoke
  • $2,400 for the Town of Bedford Economic Development Office’s “Destination Centertown Bedford VA”
  • $1,250 for the Town of Christiansburg’s “Rockin’ Main Street”
  • $10,000 for the Town of Rocky Mount’s “Discover Rocky Mount”
  • $10,000 for Twin Creeks Distillery’s “Virginia Spirits Shine Bright in Downtown Rocky Mount and Franklin County’s Moonshine Capital” in Rocky Mount
  • $5,000 for Uptown Partnership’s “SEARCH(S) – Sharing the Excitement of Arts, Recreation, Culture, History and Sports in Martinsville-Henry County” in Martinsville
  • $20,000 for Virginia Amateur Sports, Inc.’s “Virginia Commonwealth Games” in Lynchburg
  • $20,000 for Virginia International Raceway’s “Virginia is for Racing Lovers Grand Prix” in Alton
  • $30,000 for Wytheville Convention and Visitors Bureau “Get Lost in the Moments, Not in the Crowd/Catch Your Breath in Wytheville”