By MELINDA WILLIAMS
The next time you see tourists spending money in Virginia, you might want to say “thanks” because they’re helping to keep more money in your pocket.
According to Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC), if not for the tax revenue generated by tourism and travel, each Virginia household would have to pay $438 more in annual taxes. As a matter of fact, the tax revenue generated is sufficient to pay the annual salaries for 27,000 firefighters or 22,000 elementary school teachers.
Tourism contributes $20.4 billion annually to Virginia’s economy, making it one of the Commonwealth’s leading industries. This spending supports 207,000 jobs and generates $1.3 billion in state and local revenue, according to VTC.
“Tourism obviously generates a significant amount of revenue for Virginia – and for every dollar Virginia invests in tourism it receives five in return,” said VTC President and CEO Rita McClenny. “The important thing to understand is that tourism benefits us all, whether or not we work in the tourism industry or travel ourselves.”
Most importantly, travel and tourism jobs cannot be outsourced to foreign countries like many other jobs. “A ranger at Shenandoah National Park can no more be outsourced than the park itself,” said McClenny.
Nationally, one out of every eight jobs in America depends on tourism. United States Travel Association reports that domestic and international travel amounts to $2.3 billion per day, directly generating $129 billion in local, state and federal revenue.