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Tourism is proving to be a growing economic engine in Virginia, providing more jobs and tax revenue. State figures show visitors to Virginia spent more than $19 billion  in 2010, up almost 7% from the year before. More from WFIR’s Evan Jones.

[audio:|titles=10-12 VA Tourism Wrap2-WEB]

Money generated from tourism helps communities pay for services in tough economic times, and the governor’s office says visitors to Virginia generated about $1.3 billion in state and local taxes last year. State figures show tourism supports more than 200,000 jobs statewide.

Here is the full news release:

RICHMOND – Governor Bob McDonnell announced today that visitors to Virginia generated $18.9 billion in revenue in 2010, a 6.7 percent increase over 2009. In 2010, tourism in Virginia supported 204,000 jobs and provided more than $1.3 billion in state and local taxes.  The Virginia Tourism Corporation receives its annual economic impact data from the U.S. Travel Association.  The information is based on domestic visitor spending (travelers from within the United States) from per person trips taken 50 miles or more away from home.

“The increase in revenue from tourism is very encouraging,” said Governor McDonnell.  “Given current economic conditions across the country, a 6.7 percent increase is impressive.  Tourism is an instant revenue generator and job creator for Virginia, which is why I continue to advocate for more resources for tourism marketing.  Smart investments in tourism provide economic benefits to communities across the Commonwealth and good jobs for our citizens.”

The 6.7 percent growth in domestic visitor spending follows Governor McDonnell’srecent announcement that tourism spending by overseas travelers to Virginia increased by more than 12 percent in 2010.  Additionally, Canadian visitors to Virginia showed an even greater increase as nearly 575,000 Canadians traveled to Virginia and spent more than $133 million, a 16.6 percent increase in spending over 2009.

“We are pleased to have tourism revenue trending upward,” said Alisa Bailey, president and CEO of the Virginia Tourism Corporation.  “However the economy continues to pose challenges for visitors and our industry.  We’ll work with our industry partners to build on these positive gains, increase our marketing efforts and bring more visitors to Virginia.”