HARRISONBURG — Tourism is booming in the Valley.
Harrisonburg and Rockingham County saw tourism revenue increase 5.2 percent and 3.6 percent, respectively, in 2017, according to data released this week by the Virginia Tourism Corp. The latest figures have been updated from forecasts released in May.
Tourism in Virginia generated about $25 billion in 2017 and supported 232,223 jobs.
Locally, Harrisonburg saw $124.8 million in tourism revenue for 2017. Visitors generated $218.2 million in Rockingham County.
Gov. Ralph Northam said in a press release that the visitors are “injecting critical funds back into our community coffers.”
The Shenandoah Valley generated $1.4 billion in revenue for 2017. The total was fourth out of 10 regions in the state behind Central Virginia, Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads.
Shenandoah County took in the most tourism revenue in the Valley with $223.6 million. The total was 5 percent higher than in 2016.
“[The county is] a nice getaway for someone who is in the hustle and bustle of D.C. to get away for a nice long weekend,” said Jenna French, Shenandoah County’s tourism director.
French attributed the increase to the Shenandoah Spirits Trail, which promotes area wineries and craft breweries.
The trail includes Rockingham, Page, Shenandoah, Clarke and Frederick counties, the cities of Harrisonburg and Winchester, and the towns of Luray and Front Royal.
French said the trail got started in late 2016 and picked up steam in 2017.
French said the region works together to promote tourism through collaborative efforts, such as the Shenandoah Valley Tourism Partnership. She also said sites including Shenandoah Caverns, Bryce Resort and the Virginia Museum of the Civil War provide activities in the county all year.
Casey Armstrong, Rockingham County’s economic development director, said alcohol is a big draw for the area. He also cited Massanutten Resort, Shenandoah National Park and George Washington National Forest as hubs for tourist activity.
“At this point, I think that the outdoor activity with the wineries and breweries are doing really well,” he said. “I think that they do well every year, but it seems like everybody has improved their facilities.”
Other localities also saw revenue increase from the year before.
Augusta County received $126.4 million in 2017, a 2.8 percent jump, and tourism generated $69.3 million in Page County, a 3.2 percent increase.
Tourism-supported jobs increased in the area. Revenue supported 1,173 positions in Harrisonburg, up 21 from the year before. Rockingham had 2,141 tourism-supported jobs, up 20 from 2016.