Prince Edward gets more tourism dollars

Published 9:52 pm Thursday, November 23, 2023

Prince Edward’s tourism department has received $10,000 from Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s office, with the money earmarked to promote off-season tourism. 

The money was part of more than $757,000 in matching grant funds awarded across the state to 131 small businesses, Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs), downtown business associations and chambers of commerce as part of the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC).

“Funds from Prince Edward’s transient occupancy tax will be the local match on behalf of Prince Edward,” Prince Edward Director of Economic Development & Tourism Chelsey White said. “This is the lodging tax that visitors pay. A portion of that revenue can only be used for tourism-related marketing.”

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“Driving tourism during the off-season is part of our strategy to grow Virginia’s economy,” Youngkin said. “These programs will help bring in year-round overnight visitation which will support small businesses and jobs in localities across Virginia.”

White will use the grant to promote Prince Edward as a one-stop wedding destination.

“This grant is specifically for off-season promotions,” White explained. “That’s why we felt the current trend toward year-round weddings would fit this criteria.” Prince Edward Marketing Assistant Molly Kinahan added, “You can get everything you need for a wedding here in Prince Edward — wedding and bridesmaid dresses, unique venue, wedding photographer, numerous wedding accommodations.”

“Prince Edward County has many places to stay for a bridal party and the people coming to town for a wedding,” Kinahan added. “It will benefit local restaurants, shops — everything.”

Adding the off-season to the benefit equation makes sense.

“Tourism is a multibillion-dollar industry in Virginia, and it is imperative that we are able to market the abundance of travel experiences across the Commonwealth year round and invite travelers to discover for themselves why Virginia is for Lovers,” President and CEO of Virginia Tourism Corporation Rita McClenny noted.

“Weddings happen all year now,” White explained. “Brides like to think outside the box while looking for that ‘wow factor.’”

White adds that brides won’t have to look far to find that “wow” in Prince Edward County.

“We know we are a picturesque community,” she said.

While funds from the grant will be used to market in more populated locations like Richmond and Northern Virginia, local areas will also be targeted.

“We plan to collaborate with the Chamber for our promotions,” White noted. “We want to tap into well-established areas of bridal marketing but also pay attention to local markets.”

White and Kinahan both see an off-season wedding promotion as a win-win for Prince Edward.

“This grant will help grow our small business community,” Kinahan concluded. “That benefits the whole county.”