The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Officials: Tourism well positioned to grow in VB, but transportation challenges remain

  • Print

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Virginia's largest city is well positioned to see its tourism industry grow, helping to diversify the region's military-dependent economy, but traffic gridlock and increased competition from other states could become obstacles if they're not addressed, officials said Monday.

Tourism is Virginia Beach's second largest revenue generator, after defence spending, and the city drives more leisure travel visitation than any other city in the state, according to city officials. Virginia Beach primarily draws tourists to its oceanfront and bay beaches, for sporting events and for convention and business travel.

In an address at an oceanfront hotel, Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau Director Jim Ricketts said tourism spending in the city reached $1.28 billion in 2012. In the first three months of 2014, he said, the city has seen a 6 per cent increase in tourism spending compared with the same period in 2012, which set records.

"We are on a roll as we move into the summer season," Ricketts said.

Ricketts listed potential developments that could boost tourism in the future, including the possibility of an 18,000 seat arena at the oceanfront and a convention centre headquarters hotel. But he also warned that competition for tourism spending is fierce and that traffic congestion continues to be a problem, particularly as tourists must wait in long traffic lines at bridge-tunnels to get to the city.

He said research indicates that the thing tourists like least about Virginia Beach is the traffic leading up to the city.

"We want Virginia Beach to be better connected to the entire Coastal Virginia region," he said.

To that end, he said he supports extending light rail from Norfolk to Virginia Beach. Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who spoke after Ricketts, has committed to spending up to $200 million of state money to help make that happen.

McAuliffe said he's well aware that transportation is a major problem when it comes to getting visitors in and out of the area. He said that's one of the reasons he supports adding additional lanes to part of Interstate 64 east of Richmond to Hampton Roads, which drew heavy applause.

"Once we do that, I just think it'll be spectacular for what we need to do on tourism," he said.

With the possibility of Defence Department spending cuts always on the horizon, McAuliffe said he fully supports ideas that will diversify Virginia's economy.

"We are the No. 1 recipient of DOD dollars. That's great news until you start receiving cuts," McAuliffe said.

He said boosting tourism is a natural way for Virginia Beach to achieve economic diversification.

__

Brock Vergakis can be reached at www.twitter.com/BrockVergakis

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Soca and Reggae Festival and Weekend Weather

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • June 25, 2013 - 130625  -  A storm lit up Winnipeg Tuesday, June 25, 2013. John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press - lightning
  • A young goose gobbles up grass at Fort Whyte Alive Monday morning- Young goslings are starting to show the markings of a adult geese-See Bryksa 30 day goose challenge- Day 20– June 11, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What's your take on a report that shows violent crime is decreasing in Winnipeg?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google