Tourism in the State Budget

To understand the role of tourism, it helps to look at the state budget. The Virginia Tourism Corporation receives state funds via the Office of Commerce and Trade budget. Tourism is a economic growth program, not a part of the Natural Resources budget where funds are allocated for state parks, historic preservation, and the Virginia Museum of Natural History. (Forestry and the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy are also part of the Commerce and Trade budget.)

Governor Gilmore's 2000-2002 budget proposed funding the Virginia Tourism Authority from the General Fund (GF):

The Virginia Tourism Authority was created by the 1999 General Assembly. The authority, operating as the Virginia Tourism Corporation, is responsible for encouraging, stimulating, and supporting tourism in the Commonwealth by promoting, marketing, and advertising the Commonwealth's many tourist attractions and locations, and for encouraging, stimulating, and supporting the film industry in the Commonwealth. The authority also is responsible for administering and managing the cooperative tourism advertising program, as well as the Governor's Motion Picture Opportunity Fund.

Recommended changes:

  • Enhance tourism marketing. An increase in funds to enhance the agency's tourism marketing program. The additional funds will be used for marketing and promotion of Revolutionary War, Civil War, and colonial historical sites in the state, marketing and promotion of African-American heritage sites, marketing and promotion of golf in Virginia, and administering the golf program. This additional marketing will increase both visitation to Virginia and traveler spending, helping to push Virginia forward as a top travel destination. For each year, $3.3 million (GF).
  • Provide funding for cooperative marketing of African-American heritage sites. An increase in funds to enable the agency to leverage an existing theme (African-American heritage sites) of its core advertising program by encouraging participants in the cooperative advertising program to use this theme in their local and regional advertising. For each year, $250,000 (GF).
  • Support a Blue Ridge Parkway marketing initiative. An increase in funds for a "challenge" appropriation to be matched by North Carolina, Tennessee, or the Blue Ridge Parkway Association to expand marketing of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Funding would support marketing and promotion of existing and new or expanded attractions along the parkway. Virginia now has a "critical mass" of attractions along the portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway within the state's borders, which will lead to increased economic benefits. The parkway is part of the National Park System. For 2001, $300,000 (GF).
  • Develop the "African-American Heritage Trails in Virginia" program. An increase in funds for the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and Public Policy to develop the "African-American Heritage Trails in Virginia" program. Funds will be used for research and to develop a database of African-American sites, as well as to promote and market the sites. For each year, $200,000 (GF).
  • Re-establish state visitor information center at the Bell Tower in Capitol Square. An increase in funds to re-establish a state visitor information center at the Bell Tower in Capitol Square in Richmond. Funds will be used for two positions to staff the visitor information center, as well as for rent, supplies, and materials. The visitor center will serve the needs of walk-in visitors, officials, and consumers calling for statewide Virginia travel information. For each year, $100,000 (GF).
  • Provide funding for national comprehensive museum and education center. An increase in funds for operating costs of a national comprehensive museum and education center in Richmond focused on the Civil War period of American history. For each year, $250,000 (GF).
 

Fiscal Year 2001

Fiscal Year 2002

VIRGINIA TOURISM AUTHORITY

General

Nongeneral

All Funds

General

Nongeneral

All Funds

FY 2000 appropriation

18,096,929

0

18,096,929

18,096,929

0

18,096,929

Technical adjustments to base

(463,788)

0

(463,788)

(460,573)

0

(460,573)

Adjusted base budget

17,633,141

0

17,633,141

17,636,356

0

17,636,356

Recommended funding changes:

           
  • Develop the "African-American Heritage Trails in Virginia" program

200,000

0

200,000

200,000

0

200,000

  • Support a Blue Ridge Parkway marketing initiative

300,000

0

300,000

0

0

0

  • Provide funding for cooperative marketing of African-American heritage sites

250,000

0

250,000

250,000

0

250,000

  • Re-establish state visitor information center at the Bell Tower in Capitol Square

100,000

0

100,000

100,000

0

100,000

  • Enhance tourism marketing

3,250,000

0

3,250,000

3,250,000

0

3,250,000

  • Provide funding for national comprehensive museum and education center

250,000

0

250,000

250,000

0

250,000

Total recommended funding changes

4,350,000

0

4,350,000

4,050,000

0

4,050,000

Total recommended funding

21,983,141

0

21,983,141

21,686,356

0

21,686,356

Percent change

21.47%

0%

21.47%

19.83%

0%

19.83%

As shown in the 2000-2002 budget passed by the General Assembly, the Governor did not get all that he requested. The Virginia Tourism Authority was funded for $21,008,141 in FY2001 (Fiscal Year 2001 is July 1, 2000-June 30, 2001) and $20,036,356 in FY2002.

One modification was to add $250,000 from Special Funds (in this case, vending machine revenues...) to finance a Centerstate 29 Visitor Center. The General Assembly also directed the Virginia Tourism Corporation to develop (with Suffolk) a "Public Use Development Plan and Environmental Assessment for the Great Dismal Swamp Wildlife Refuge." That refuge is Federal land, managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service - but based on the Web site for the refuge, you can see why the state decided it had to finance the efforts to attract tourism while the Federal agency dealt with natural resource management issues...

Now compare the "old" budgets with the 2002-2004 budget for the Virginia Tourism Authority that was finally approved by the General Assembly. (NOTE: Year 1 was July 1, 2002-June 30, 2003, and Year 2 was July 1, 2003-June 30, 2004. "GF" refers to General Fund, dollars appropriated by the General Assembly every 2 years with the biennial budget. "NGF" refers to Non-General Fund revenues, which may be Federal funds or revenues from dedicated sources. Obviously the Virginia Tourism Authority depends upon the support of the 140 lawmakers elected to the General Assembly.)

Johns Spring Shelter, on the Appalachian Trail near McAfee's Knob in Roanoke County
Johns Spring Shelter, on the Appalachian Trail
(near McAfee's Knob in Roanoke County)


Parks, Forests, and Tourism
Virginia Places