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Nelson County to use $10K in grant money to safely welcome travelers back to area

Nelson County to use $10K in grant money to safely welcome travelers back to area

Only $5 for 5 months
Nelson welcome sign

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

Nelson County Tourism received $10,000 as part of a grant program meant to offset heavy losses felt by the COVID-19 pandemic and aid the county in safely bringing travelers back.

The Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) DMO WanderLove Recovery Grant Program, a new grant made available to Virginia’s Destination Marketing Organizations, has gifted grant monies to localities throughout the commonwealth in order to fund recovery marketing initiatives, according to a news release.

The release states Nelson County Tourism will use the money to position the county as a road trip destination with print, social and digital media campaigns while also leveraging the area’s road trip destinations to inspire travel in the summer and fall.

“The primary economic engine of Nelson County is tourism,” Maureen Kelley, the county’s director of economic development and tourism, said in the release. “However, because of its reliance on the hospitality business sector, the County’s tax revenue saw a sharp decline the last quarter of its fiscal year, which occurred during the beginning of the health crisis.”

Kelley added that, along with the leadership of VTC, the grant will help to position Nelson County to safely welcome travelers back to the area.

“There is a lot of pent-up demand for leisure travel and people are seeking safe, close-to-home destinations that allow for social distancing and access to open spaces.”

As part of the program, 90 Destination Marketing Organizations received a share of a total of $866,504.

Tourism in Nelson County generated spending of more than $211 million in 2018 which supported 1,744 jobs and contributed more than $15 million in local and state tax revenue, according to the release. In that same year, visitors throughout the commonwealth spent $26 billion which supported 234,000 jobs and contributed $1.8 billion in state and local taxes.

The tourism and hospitality industries have been among the most heavily affected by the pandemic, experiencing decreased revenue and job loss with many tourism-related businesses experiencing temporary closures.

“Virginia tourism is a critical sector of our economy and has been heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic,” Gov. Ralph Northam said in the release. “Getting travelers back on the road and spending money in our cities and towns is one of the fastest ways to inject dollars back into our economy and our communities.”

Nelson County was the first accredited rural tourism program in the commonwealth, according to the release.

The Virginia Tourism Corporation is the state agency charged with marketing the commonwealth as a premier travel and film destination.

Nick Cropper covers Nelson County. Reach him at (434) 385-5522.

Nick Cropper covers Nelson County. Reach him at (434) 385-5522.

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