RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It's more than a billion dollar industry in Richmond and the city's mayor is looking to boost that figure. Mayor Dwight Jones has created a tourism commission to find ways to help the capital city capitalize on money coming from travelers.
It's the 150th anniversary of Civil War and Emancipation. Historic Tredegar Iron Works will likely be a busy place this year. The banks of the James River is just one of many attractions that lures them in. Richmond had a packed house over the weekend thanks to the CAA Basketball Tournament and the ongoing draw of the Picasso exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
Mayor Jones is hoping to capitalize on even more of the city's rich history.
"We all know that we have a lot going on and a city that is really great and it really needs to be promoted and it needs to be marketed," Jones said.
"This community has so so much to offer and it's great that they mayor's bringing everybody together to work on this," said Todd Parney with the Richmond Flying Squirrels.
He's asking members to figure out how to manage the tourist experience, expand and enhance assets and market Richmond.
Delegate Delores McQuinn is a co-chair of the commission. She says, "Putting them in place so when people enter this city immediately there is a place that they can go and say where do I go to find A B C and D."
"We have so many wonderful assets but bringing them together is a part of that puzzle," said Co-chair Alex Nygeres of the VMFA.
Metro Richmond's counties combined brought in $1.6 billion in 2009. The region has more than 18,000 hotel rooms.
"We're not dependant on just the tourist. We have huge business travel. We have I-95 and I-64 which is huge as everybody travels every single day," said Jack Barry with the Richmond Visitor's Center and Convention Bureau.
More than 100,000 come twice a year to Richmond International Raceway. The city is close to finishing the Richmond Slave Trail.
Mayor Jones says he wants the group to brainstorm the best ways to promote everything richmond has to offer. The mayor has not set a time limit on when a final report or a list of recommendations is due.