Tourism leaders hoping Hurricane Earl doesn't change travel plans

By Gene Petriello - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - State tourism leaders are confident they are going to have a good weekend, especially since they say at this point Hurricane Earl isn't going to have a huge effect on Virginia over the Labor Day weekend.

Millions of dollars are expected to change hands in the state this week,  helping the $19 billion tourism industry in the state.

The highways are bound to fill up and you're bound to tap the brakes, stuck in some kind of traffic this Labor Day weekend.

But, Rosaland Blue is gassed up and ready to hit the road later this week. Meanwhile, this strong hurricane with eyes on the east coast, isn't going to change that.

"Nah, we ain't worried about it! If it's going to get you, it's going to get you," says Rosaland. 

Rosaland is one of more than 900,000 Virginians AAA predicts will drive 50 miles or more, starting Thursday. That's nearly 9 percent more travelers than last year. Here's even better news: gas prices are on the way down!

Luckily, Rosaland is heading somewhat inland toward North Carolina. Here at home, tourism leaders are pleading with people heading toward Hampton Roads.

"Reports right now are that the hurricane will not be an issue for Virginia. We hope people will not cancel their travel plans. There's no reason to do that at this point. So,  just stay informed," says Tamra Talmadge-Anderson, with the Virginia Tourism Department. 

As of now, state leaders have not heard about canceled vacation plans from places at the beach.  That's good news for them. So far this year has been a winning one for most tourism spots statewide.

But, of course, things could change quickly this weekend. "They are keeping an eye on the storm," adds Talmadge-Anderson. 

"I'm just going to take it easy and relax and get on down there," says Blue.

She says that, as the many tourist spots throughout the state are hoping everyone takes Rosaland's approach to this unofficial end of the summer.

At this point,  it is too early to tell if people will actually change their plans and stay in Richmond instead of say heading down to the shore. Only time will tell, just like time will tell what Earl decides to do in the coming days.

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