By Polly Elmore, H/PG Chamber of Commerce
Hopewell/Price George, VA – Visitors to the Hopewell/Prince George community spent $96.96 million in 2014, an increase of 5 percent over visitor expenditures of $92.52 million in 2013. Local tourism-supported jobs totaled 960 for the combined communities, with a payroll of $17.84 million. Tourist expenditures generated local taxes totaling $1.01 million.
This tourism data is based on domestic visitor spending (travelers from within the United States) taking trips of 50 miles or more away from home, as reported by the U.S. Travel Association to the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC).
During 2014, the City of Hopewell benefitted from $24.41 million in tourist spending (compared with $23.8 million in 2013) and Prince George County benefitted from $72.54 million in tourist spending (compared with $68.72 million in 2013). Tourist-related employment in Hopewell remained constant at 240 from 2013 to 2014 and increased from 690 to 720 in Prince George County. Hopewell collected $960,000 in tourism-related taxes and Prince George collected $1.05 million in 2014.
The Hopewell-Prince George Chamber took over management of the area’s Visitor Center and tourist promotion program on July 1. The HPG Chamber renovated the Visitor Center and staff moved into the Center to combine both Chamber and Visitor programs. Under Chamber management, the Visitor Center greeted and provided information to 5,909 visitors, including over 350 from foreign countries, to the area and answered 3,422 requests for information.
Bill Robertson, chairman of the Prince George County Board of Supervisors, stated: “Tourism is a strong economic driver in our economy. With many historic sites and a growing sports tourism focus, Prince George County is ready to welcome even more visitors this year. In 2016, we are excited to host the Amateur Softball Association 14U Eastern Nationals. At Exit 45 on I-95, our future gateway beautification efforts will help welcome tourists for years to come. Our tourism partnership with the HPG Chamber and City of Hopewell is off to a solid start.”
Brenda Pelham, mayor of the City of Hopewell shared, “As a veteran of the U.S. Army, I am excited about this tourism collaboration with Prince George County and the Chamber because I think that shared resource, which is less than 3 miles from the Fort Lee military population, is making strides to provide more value to the military installation and to those families that come here to visit soldiers.”
Gov. Terry McAuliffe released the statewide economic impact data in September. Tourism in Virginia generated $22.4 billion in travel spending in 2014. Tourism also supported 216,900 jobs in the Commonwealth and $1.5 billion in local taxes, an increase of 5.6 percent compared to 2013.
“These new figures illustrate the importance of investing in tourism, an industry which is helping to build a new Virginia economy, creating solid, good-paying jobs for our residents,” said Gov. McAuliffe.
Becky McDonough, CEO of the Hopewell/Prince George Chamber, said: “We are gathering information from many sources to inform our recommendations on tourism assets; we will apply for a Virginia Tourism grant to continue the DRIVE Tourism process that we began in the spring with the Virginia Tourism Corporation. As a chamber we strive to use the investments of our members wisely so as a chamber/visitor center we are doing the same with the funds provided by the city and county. There is definitely synergy in the Chamber managing the Visitor Center and working to grow tourism.”