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Planning Group for Hopewell/Prince George Area Focuses on Drawing Tourists

Contributed Report, The Progress-Index

HOPEWELL/PRINCE GEORGE — Members of a tourism planning group for the Hopewell/Prince George area are unanimous on the need for a river-front development that would be a draw for tourists. The decision came after taking a series of three tourism development workshops facilitated by the Hopewell/Prince George Chamber and the Virginia Tourism Corporation.

“These DRIVE Tourism workshops helped us to focus on the assets we have and those we need to develop to succeed in a competitive travel and tourism market,” said Becky McDonough, CEO of the Hopewell/Prince George Chamber.

McDonough referenced Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s recent announcement that Virginia’s tourism revenues reached $22.4 billion in 2014 – a 4.1 percent increase over 2013. Tourism supported 216,000 jobs and $1.5 billion in state and local revenue last year. Local statistics for 2014 are not yet available.

The Hopewell/Prince George community, which held its third workshop on June 11, is the ninth locality to complete the DRIVE Tourism workshops in 2015. More than 50 individuals from local groups in Hopewell/Prince George and the surrounding region completed homework and attended the three-session workshops. The individuals represented local government administration, economic development and recreation and parks; local historical societies; entertainment, real estate and hospitality sectors; the Hopewell Downtown Partnership; Appomattox Regional Library System; Petersburg Area Regional Tourism (PART); Friends of the Lower Appomattox River (FOLAR); VSU students; elected officials; as well as area residents and students.

Local impact of tourism:

According to a report prepared by the U.S. Travel Association for the Virginia Tourism Corp., tourists spent $23.8 million in the city of Hopewell and $68.7 million in Prince George County in 2013.

Prince George County Deputy County Administrator, Jeff Stoke, said that local tax receipts for food and lodging in the county totaled $1.4 million and sales tax receipts totaled $1 million in 2013.

City of Hopewell Assistant City Manager Charlie Dane said that local tax receipts for food and lodging in Hopewell totaled $2.6 million and sales tax receipts totaled nearly $1.1 million in 2013.

Prince George County recently completed a tourism study and has plans to invest in the commercial area at Exit 45, just off Interstate 95.

With a three-year grant from the city of Hopewell and Prince George County, the Hopewell-Prince George Chamber took over management of the area’s Visitor Center and tourist promotion program on July 1, 2014. The HPG Chamber has renovated the Visitor Center and staffs it seven days a week, produced a tourism video and a new tourism website, http://visithpg.com.

Founded in 1920, the Hopewell/Prince George Chamber of Commerce works to create connections and provide solutions to encourage business growth in the Hopewell/Prince George region.