The Town of Marion Office of Community and Economic Development] has received $10,000 from the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) DMO WanderLove Recovery Grant Program, a new grant made available to Virginia’s Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) across the Commonwealth that have been heavily impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic to fund recovery marketing initiatives. $866,504 in marketing grant funds were awarded to 90 Destination Marketing Organizations as part of the DMO WanderLove Recovery Grant program.
Marion will use the VTC WanderLove grant funds to design and build a mobile "LOVEworks" sign, create marketing campaign centered around the new "WanderLove" program designed to encourage "roadtrips to Marion" for visitors to discover our hidden gems - from the historic Lincoln Theatre and the Henderson School of Appalachian Arts to hiking and biking trails at nearby Hungry Mother State Park.
"We are so excited to again partner with Virginia Tourism to promote Marion along with the rest of the Commonwealth," said Marion mayor David Helms. "We're known as 'America's Coolest Hometown', and we're looking forward to showing 'A Little Cool Around Every Corner' here in our community."
As Virginia begins reopening, there is a lot of pent-up demand for leisure travel and people are seeking safe, close-to-home destinations that allow for social distancing and access to open spaces. With this in mind, the WanderLove campaign provides travel inspiration for road trips, outdoor recreation, hidden gems, small towns, and Virginia’s signature LOVEworks program.
“Virginia tourism is a critical sector of our economy and has been heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “Getting travelers back on the road and spending money in our cities and towns is one of the fastest ways to inject dollars back into our economy and our communities. The Virginia Tourism Corporation’s DMO WanderLove Recovery Grants gives localities the ability to market their destination as safe and welcoming when visitors are ready to resume travel.”
Tourism is one of the Commonwealth’s largest economic engines, with visitors to Marion and Smyth County spending more than $26 million in 2018, contributing over $5 million in local payroll from hospitality and tourism-related jobs, and over $2 million in local and state tax revenue. The tourism and hospitality industries have also 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 Town of Marion, Virginia, is a nationally-certified "Main Street Community" with a ten-acre historic downtown full of unique shops, local restaurants, and small town charm. Nearby Hungry Mother State Park attracts over 200,000 visitors each year, and Marion's historic Lincoln Theatre is home of the "Official Television Series of Virginia", the nationally-syndicated "Song of the Mountains" bluegrass, old time and Americana concert series.
About Virginia Tourism Corporation
Virginia Tourism Corporation is the state agency charged with marketing the Commonwealth as a premier travel and film destination. In 2018, visitors to Virginia spent $26 billion, which supported 234,000 work opportunities and contributed $1.8 billion in state and local taxes. In 2019, Virginia is for Lovers celebrates its 50th anniversary. To learn more, visit virginia.org