Atop a tourisim goldmine

Published 1:07 pm Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Heart of Virginia has the keys to unlock and harness more of the $22.4 billion in tourism revenues the state saw last year.

They’re in our back yards, at our fingertips and under our feet — in the recreational and educational opportunities afforded by the High Bridge Trail, James River, Twin Lakes, Bear Creek and Sailor’s Creek state parks.

Aside from the numerous educational aspects of these parks, they offer unlimited amounts of fishing, canoeing, hiking, biking, swimming and kayaking along beautiful scenes of forests, fields, lakes and streams.

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“We’ve got the assets. I think we need to do a better job of promotion to hit more folks,” Gov. Terry McAuliffe said recently while visiting Bear Creek Lake State Park.

“Once you get people to come here and you get them to go back and tell their friends, who will tell their friends,” he said.

Better promotion is needed indeed. More people across the state should know about the assets we have here that have dollar signs written all over them.

Aside from our state parks, our history offers a diverse and rich glimpse into the past of Virginia and the U.S. through the Moton Museum to Lee’s Retreat, and from Cumberland’s first call for independence to Jefferson’s impact on Buckingham’s Court House.

When people come in from out of town to visit our state parks and historic sites, they do much more than just pitch a tent or put their kayaks into the water and pack up and go home. They buy gas, food, groceries and other supplies, which equates to more money spent here, supporting our economy, workers and tax bases.

It’s a win-win situation. Our communities compose a recreation mecca for tourists with hundreds of acres of trails, campsites and forests with bodies of water just waiting on human interaction.

According to a press release from the governor’s office, last year tourism in Virginia supported 216,949 jobs, an increase of nearly 700 jobs from the previously reported forecast estimate of 216,300 jobs.

With our county tax bases so small and our local governments so reliant on real estate tax revenue to support our schools and other government operations, we could use a much bigger piece of the pie that tourism brings to Virginia through our local state parks.

JORDAN MILES is the managing editor of Farmville Newsmedia, LLC. His email address is