Sports tourism generated billions for Virginia
Big ticket and community sports events scored big time for the Virginia economy last year.
Sports tourism in Virginia generated $2.7 billion in direct spending in 2022, up 12% on the previous year.
It was driven by 12.1 million sports travelers who participated in tournaments or attended other sports related events.
Sports tourism in 2022 accounted for nearly 8% of Virginia’s overall visitor economy.
It directly contributed $2.4 billion in visitor spending.
Sports fans and participants spent $7.3 million every day in Virginia.
The sports tourism industry employed more than 28,000 Virginians and drove $344 million in state and local tax revenues, the Virginia Tourism Corporation says.
Among the industries impacted by travel, the largest contribution from sports tourism was the food and beverage sector.
“We are thrilled to see how sports tourism helped power Virginia’s tourism recovery,” said Dan Roberts, Vice President of Research & Strategy for Virginia Tourism Corporation.
“These numbers show the significant impact sports tourism has on the economic growth of communities across the Commonwealth.”
The highest concentration of total sports spending is the Central and Southern Virginia region, including Richmond and Lynchburg..
The Northern Virginia region, comprising the Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William areas, ranks as the second-highest region, generating $758 million in sports spending in 2022.
In 2020, the sports tourism sector in Virginia experienced a significant decline due to the pandemic, with a 38% reduction in visitation and a 47% decrease in spending.
However, sports tourism played a key role in Virginia’s recovery from the pandemic.
To further speed up the recovery, Virginia Tourism Corporation used $1 million of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to support a Sports Marketing Incentive Program.
The funds were used for event incentives and marketing promotions targeted specifically at attracting new sports tournaments and competitions.
Virginia Tourism Corporation collaborated with Tourism Economics to conduct this wide-ranging impact study.
The study includes only adult and youth amateur tournaments plus collegiate tournaments featuring participants or spectators traveling more than 50 miles or staying overnight.
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