$24 billion in revenue. $5.7 billion in payroll income. 230,000 jobs.
A quick snapshot of last year’s numbers in Virginia should make the case clear—it pays to invest in tourism, one of the five largest industries in the state.
You can credit the collective financial success partly to statewide efforts. For example, the Virginia Tourism Corporation continues to market our state as a whole and promote the “Virginia is for Lovers” brand (which is now 48 years old if you can believe it). But I believe what’s really helping push those numbers higher year after year can be found at the local level.
In this issue of Lynchburg Business, we are taking some time to focus on the greater Lynchburg area’s tourism industry and the issues that impact our bottom line. From major improvements downtown to state level competitions, the outlook is very positive for Central Virginia, according to local leaders. On page 88, read about the latest efforts to bring more people to town.
Odds are you’ve seen the new hotels under construction in the area or have heard about The Virginian Hotel renovation downtown. “Another hotel?” you might have said to yourself. (I know I did.) Starting on page 35, we have an in-depth look at Lynchburg’s thriving lodging sector and asked some of the big players what’s fueling it. Also, our Commercial Real Estate columnist Billy Hansen did some digging in the local archives and found a similar boom in hotels over 30 years ago. He tells you what’s changed (and what hasn’t).
In our Legal department, a local attorney helps us sort out the new legislation affecting anyone who uses Airbnb. Whether you’re a traveler looking for a place to stay or a young couple hoping to rent out a room to make some extra cash, you will need to be aware of some possible changes to the rules. Read more about what to expect on page 43.
And keeping with our tourism theme, an inside look at One Way Out Escape Rooms, this issue’s Business Under 10 Years, which was nominated for a local small business award. Writer Suzanne Ramsey walks you through her experience on page 28.
I hope you find some time to be a tourist this summer. And while you vacation, remember that word of mouth is the best marketing tool. Be sure to tell the people you meet about a place they must visit—your hometown, Lynchburg.
Shelley Basinger, Managing Editor