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Nelson County selected to participate in statewide tourism program

Nelson County selected to participate in statewide tourism program

Nelson welcome sign

Nelson County's gateway sign on U.S. 29 Business welcomes motorists near the Nelson-Amherst border. 

Nelson County announced it is one of several localities in Virginia to participate in a program that focuses on tourism promotion and product development in 2021.

Facilitated by the Virginia Tourism Corporation, the DRIVE 2.0 Statewide Tourism Plan equips communities with “the tools they need to succeed in an overly competitive travel and tourism market,” according to a news release from the county.

The program comes at a time when communities, including Nelson, are looking for ways to ease recovery efforts as localities continue to wrestle with lost tourism dollars because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The release notes after a record-breaking year in 2019, projected data shows a sharp decrease in visitor spending in 2020.

DRIVE 2.0 will help communities place themselves at the center of economic recovery amid still competition for tourism dollars, the release says.

Having participated in the first DRIVE program, Nelson County Director of Economic Development and Tourism Maureen Kelley said in the release how valuable the state’s aid will be in developing tourism in the county.

“Like other communities, Nelson’s tourism economy was severely impacted in 2020; a strategic action plan will rebound our recovery from the financial setbacks our hospitality businesses suffered,” Kelley said.

Upon completion of the program, communities will have the foundation for a competitive promotion and product development plan. Following implementation, those communities are eligible for a $10,000 grant to assist with promotion and product development efforts.

According to the release, DRIVE 2.0 — which launched in December — builds on existing findings from the 2013 Statewide Tourism Plan also known as DRIVE Tourism.

“The pandemic has had a devastating impact on the tourism industry,” said Rita McClenny, president and CEO of VTC. “Now more than ever, it is imperative that we provide strategic guidance and direction as we look ahead to brighter days.”

Kelley said Nelson County participated in the interviews and research for the Statewide and Regional Tourism Plans and even acted as a case study for trails and partnership development.

VTC, in partnership with Richmond-based tourism research firm SIR, conducted surveys and interviews with industry partners in every region throughout the state resulted in the development of tailored strategies to meet varying needs across Virginial, the release states.

To learn more about DRIVE Tourism, visit

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