Sports tournaments pushing RVA’s tourism to record-breaking levels
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond is seeing more visitors now than ever before.
Richmond Region Tourism says it’s been a record-breaking year despite challenges we’ve seen with inflation.
“Everyone has been frightened by the gas prices, but that actually plays to our advantage because we are a day’s drive for half [of] the population of the United States,” Jack Berry, president and CEO of Richmond Region Tourism said.
He was quite surprised by traveler’s perseverance. Sports, leisure, and business travel are the biggest factors, but sports tourism is scoring big this year.
“Sports tourism is definitely our best market now. It used to be only 25% of our market, now it’s 80% of our market,” Berry said.
It’s generated $37.7 million this year alone and businesses couldn’t be happier.
“We have a basketball tournament going on at the convention center and those people have basically been steadily flowing in here for the past couple days,” Lester Johnson, owner of Mama J’s said.
Johnson says out of town customers have been keeping him busy.
“Really where you get a chance to see that you’re getting customers from all over - is when we’re doing our waitlist because we ask for people’s phone numbers. So we get area codes from all over the place,” Johnson said.
“The restaurants are really - as I said - the secret to our success because it’s such a destination driver,” Berry said.
“Over 30% of the decision of where they’re going to go is based on food options,” he added.
Central Virginia could be seeing even more tourism growth over the next two years thanks to an $8 million dollar federal grant from the American Rescue Plan.
That money is being overseen by Maymont.
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