Since 2004, travel expenditures in Southwest Virginia have increased by 52%. With an increase of almost $337 million in revenue since 2004, stakeholders from around the Commonwealth of Virginia recognized a need to partner together to produce a region-wide initiative in Southwest Virginia. Southwest Virginia's counties and cities collected almost $25 million in local travel related tax revenue in 2015, which further illuminates the increasing role that tourism plays in Southwest Virginia's economy.
Virginia Tourism Corporation has worked alongside the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation for months while developing the regional brand. The partnership with VTC has been instrumental in developing Southwest Virginia as a region. "Southwest Virginia is one of the most vibrant and beautiful destinations in the Commonwealth," said Rita McClenny, president and CEO of Virginia Tourism Corporation. "The region not only boasts breathtaking vistas, heart-pumping outdoor recreation activities, miles of music heritage, hand-crafted arts and charming small towns, but it's also home to one of the hottest culinary trends in the country right now-Appalachian cuisine. This new designation is a great way for travelers to discover one of Virginia's most special regions and have an authentic Southwest Virginia experience on their next vacation."
Arnett Muldrow & Associates was contracted by Friends of Southwest Virginia to develop the Southwest Virginia brand. Ben Muldrow who led the team, visited all 19 counties, 54 towns and four cities, helping to shape and mold what will affectionately be called "A Different Side of Virginia." "This is one of the most aggressive regional brand campaigns that has ever been attempted, and with a focus on creating an open source brand that is truly owned by all, the efforts have been able to attract well over 100 brand partners throughout the region who are helping to tell all about a different side of Virginia." - Ben Muldrow (Arnett Muldrow & Associates)
Jenna Wagner, the Foundation's new Public Relations and Marketing Director, will lead the marketing efforts of promoting Southwest Virginia moving forward. "This is an exciting time for everyone, as we brand our region as a tourism destination and a thriving community. Our stories need to be told to the world, and I am delighted to be a part of the storytelling." - Jenna Wagner (PR & Marketing Director, SWVA Cultural Heritage Foundation, Commonwealth of Virginia DHCD)
Helping to present the regional efforts on October 18th include, Delegate Terry G. Kilgore, Bill Shelton, Rita McClenny, Todd Christensen and Ben Muldrow. Headlining the reception, Ralph Stanley II and The Clinch Mountain Boys will be entertaining guests while 'Round the Mountain artisans, Jean Condon and Paula and Rob Kahn will be demonstrating their craft. The reception will feature Appalachian cuisine prepared by Heartwood's own, Chef Charles Parker.
The United Way of Southwest Virginia will be hosting a leadership summit at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center on October 18th as well. As we work to unite our region, please feel free to attend both events. For more information, please visit http://unitedwayswva.org/uniteswva/.
About Southwest Virginia
Tucked in the mountains of Southwest Virginia is a vibrant culture of music, craft and stunning natural beauty. It's a region of spectacular views and rich natural resources. Rooted deep in history, this culture is Authentic. Distinctive. Alive. Time spent in the region adds up to something much more than a simple getaway. A different side of Virginia. And a great place to visit for a week's vacation - or to make a home for a lifetime.
About the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation
The Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation is the coordinating body for cultural heritage tourism and economic development efforts fostering Southwest Virginia's creative economy. The Foundation provides vision, guidance, and resources to sustain and grow the economy through preservation, revitalization, and marketing the quality of life, which is authentic, distinctive, and alive in the Southwest Virginia region. More information about Southwest Virginia and The Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation can be found at http://www.myswva.org.
About Virginia Tourism Corporation
For more information about Virginia Tourism Corporation, please visit http://www.virginia.org.
For more information about the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, please visit http://www.dhcd.virginia.gov/.
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For more information and to RSVP, please contact Jenna Wagner (276-492-2422).
Contact: Jenna Wagner
PR & Marketing Director | Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation
Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development