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Prince Edward receives WanderLove grant

The Prince Edward County Visitor Center and Office of Tourism 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.

Marketing grant funds of $866,504 were awarded to 90 Destination Marketing Organizations as part of the DMO WanderLove Recovery Grant program. Additionally, both the Town of Farmville and the County of Prince Edward have contributed $2,000 each to this campaign, giving a total of $14,000 to spend on, “Find What You Love In Farmville!”.

The Office of Tourism will use the VTC WanderLove grant funds in a multi-pronged marketing plan which includes a new LOVE mural, encouraging more road trips and outdoor promotion for a safe return to the community. It also includes multiple roadside banners at all of the major entrances to Farmville/Prince Edward County with the tagline of “Find What You Love In Farmville!”, and a new video or two being produced for a social media campaign. All of this and more from these grant funds, will focus on the VisitFarmville.com website driving virtual visitors to want to spend their time in Farmville. “The importance of this marketing endeavor cannot be understated,” Jerry Townsend, chair of the Board of Supervisors of Prince Edward County, said. “COVID-19 has been quite destructive to our local economy. This Virginia Tourism Recovery grant award, along with the additional funding allocations from both the Town of Farmville and Prince Edward County, will allow our tourism office to promote the community to travelers internationally, as well as capture the imagination of those as they are driving on our highways. We are very pleased with this plan and the potential outcome for our local businesses.”

Magi Van Eps, tourism coordinator for Prince Edward County, said that, “as the drive market becomes more of a focus for tourism, road trips to ‘hidden gems’ like Farmville/Prince Edward County, become essential opportunities for friends and families as they seek out new and interesting ways to enjoy their vacation time. Along the way, they will experience other tourism venues during these interesting and exciting road trips.” Ms. Van Eps encourages local businesses and tourism entities in the Farmville area to use #FindWhatYou- LoveInFarmville on all of their social media postings.

As Virginia begins reopening, there is a lot of pent-up demand for leisure travel and people are seeking safe, closeto- 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. Farmville/Prince Edward County definitely meets all of those qualifications.

“Virginia tourism is a critical sector of our economy and has been heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic,” Gov. Ralph Northam said. “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 Prince Edward County spending more than $25,858,576 in 2018, supporting 242 work opportunities and contributing $1,588,128 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.

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.