Tourism industry hoping for good season with new attractions

By Gene Petriello - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - This is a big time of year for the Virginia Tourism Industry. With the weather warming up, and some new attractions in our area, industry leaders are hoping for a good season.

Things were tough back in 2009 because of the economy. And, if things do not turn around soon, this year could prove to do the same.

Travelers like Daniel Alessandro are ready to get rid of their cabin fever.

"We have a lot of cover because we couldn't travel so much in the bad weather," exclaims Daniel.

Daniel, from New Jersey, is a regular here in the Commonwealth. With a niece who is an artist living in Richmond, he's often pumping money into our economy.

"She has showing all over the state and we follow that through the state. That's very good and we see a lot of out of towners," adds Daniel.

That's exactly what tourism leaders want to see, especially since it's a $19 billion a year industry.

"Virginia is primed! We have a lot working in our favor," says Tamra Talmadge-Anderson, with the VA Tourism Corporation.

That includes this new giant roller coaster at Kings Dominion, opening today.

In fact, two people we caught up with, traveled 11 hours from Ohio to camp out overnight to be one of the first thrill seekers.

"It sounded like fun so we were like hey let's go," says Amanda.

Josh adds, "Once in a lifetime experience, so we had to do it."

Another plus: rest areas. The state is in the midst of opening all of them back up again. Leaders say it's Virginia's location that gives them the most optimism.

"We are within a days drive of 60 percent of the US population. We are in a great location, making it easy to get to and affordable. And, people are still looking for value," says Talmadge-Anderson.

But, it's the economy that could bring a damper to it all and that's something leaders simply can't control.

Still, hearing things like this, "We'll be back in the fall!" coming from the mouths of people like Daniel, it may mean things are looking good for Virginia's pockets to get some extra cash this year.

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