08 May Southwest Virginia Helps Move Travel Forward with Outdoor Recreation Activities, Cultural Heritage and History Assets
Southwest Virginia is home to rich history and natural beauty. The region will help promote hospitality jobs, revenue, and the growth in the region as part of National Travel and Tourism Week.
As Executive Director of Friends of Southwest Virginia, every day I get the distinct privilege to celebrate our region’s unique vision and contributions. I enjoy a front row seat as visitors experience the beauty that defines our very special part of the world.
My team and I get to champion important local cultural and heritage initiatives including promoting travel to Southwest Virginia. Southwest Virginia is made up of 8,600 square miles of beautiful mountain ridges and incredible valley views with two national parks, 11 state parks, and plenty of natural assets to explore.
Southwest Virginia is home to the country’s designated Best Small-Town Food Scene by USA Today, Best Southern Hotel, Best Southern Small Town by Southern Living, several of the country’s Best Adventure Towns by Blue Ridge Outdoors, among the top-ranked museums, music festivals, and outdoor destinations. The accolades for Southwest Virginia communities seem endless, ranking among world-class attractions and accommodations.
Across Southwest Virginia’s 19 counties, four cities, and 53 towns, there are several teams working to protect and promote the assets that make the region a cherished stop for travelers and visitors alike. Virginia Tourism Corporation has built one of the most recognizable tourism brands in the country (Virginia is for Lovers) and is a valued asset to promoting the Southwest Virginia region. This year, two premiere Southwest Virginia
destinations were chosen as covers for the Virginia Travel Guide. As visitors seek to travel throughout the Commonwealth, they have outstanding introductions to see the region’s history through the Daniel Boone Blockhouse in Scott County and the beauty of the popular motorcycle route, the Back of the Dragon.
Additionally, our regional partners and our local tourism partners work tirelessly to educate and attract visitors to their respective communities. We are thankful for these staff members and volunteers whose mission is to promote this region for cultural heritage and history, arts and craft, music, and outdoor recreation. Their frontline work in the region’s visitor centers is often the first connection to those traveling through Southwest Virginia. Our local tourism officials help recommend and schedule visits to the top dining, shopping, and lodging sites, in addition to top activities, events, and attractions to help promote growth and development among our communities.
The tourism and hospitality industry provides a critical component to Southwest Virginia economic development initiatives and revenue generation. In 2021, visitor spending totaled more than $1.036 billion and generated $49.2 million in local taxes. The tourism industry also supported just under 9,800 jobs last year.
The U.S. Travel Association celebrates the 40th anniversary of National Travel and Tourism Week from May 7 – 13 and seeks to move Travel Forward. We know Southwest Virginia will be a dynamic partner for promoting our vibrant downtowns and quality assets through connections with partners across the region.
Friends of Southwest Virginia
This Letter to the Editor was submitted to local newspapers in Southwest Virginia.