November 16, 2022

Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau Reports $3.3 Billion in Economic Impact of Tourism for 2021

Visitor Spending Surpasses $2 Billion for First Time

The Virginia Beach Convention & Visitor Bureau (VBCVB) is pleased to report record-breaking results of a recent study on the economic impact of tourism on the city.

The report details spending by Virginia Beach visitors in 2021 and was conducted by Tourism Economics using a variety of local and national data sources and survey tools.

Visitor spending was measured across categories including direct purchases of lodging ($582M), food and beverage ($885M), transportation ($219M), entertainment/recreation ($218M), and retail ($194M), with overnight travelers accounting for double the total spending of day visitors ($1.4B versus $0.7B).

Surpassing the $2 billion mark for the first time, last year's visitor spending was up 38% over 2020 and 8% over 2019's pre-Covid level. Despite a comparative dip in the number of visitors from that same year - 11.5 million versus 13.6 million, a 15% variance - visitation is on the rise, climbing 9.1% compared to 2020. The overnight leisure segment leads the way with 2.88 million annual travelers, marking a 21.2% change above last year and 6.7% increase over 2019.

General inflation and pent-up demand propelled room rates and food and beverage prices upwards, leveraged by record-level gas prices which directly contributed to higher overall visitor spending by the city's primarily drive market audience. Virginia (29%) and North Carolina (11%) residents remain the top two states of origin for Virginia Beach travelers.

"Tourism has always been a leading contributor to our city's economy," said Nancy Helman, Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau director. "Emerging from one of the most challenging periods in history, last year's visitor spending set new records that spotlight the intrinsic value of tourism and highlight the significant benefits it provides our citizens. We should feel proud and inspired as we look ahead and continue improving on what makes Virginia Beach so special."

The $2.1 billion of spending directly by visitors created a total economic impact of $3.3 billion, once all downstream impacts are accounted for, like additional business-to-business sales. The Virginia Beach travel industry also supports 31,037 jobs and $808 million in total labor income. The $295 million in state and local taxes generated by tourism in 2021 also spares each Virginia Beach household an additional $1,700 in annual taxes.

"Our coastal amenities provide enduring appeal for travelers who want to 'live the life' in Virginia Beach, but it's our hospitality that continues to lead the way for continued growth and prosperity," adds Helman. "A thoughtful and steady infusion of new attractions, events, and accommodations will allow Virginia Beach to remain a sought-after destination that families will visit for generations to come while helping to support those lucky enough to call it home."

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