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Preservation Virginia has received $8,950.00 from the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s (VTC) Recovery Marketing Leverage Program (RMLP), designed to help local and regional tourism entities attract more visitors by leveraging limited local marketing dollars through a local match of the state grants funds.
More than $1.9 million in matching grant funds were awarded to 161 local tourism initiatives through this program. This funding cycle, local partners will provide more than $5.6 million in-kind value to match the VTC grants. The grants will ultimately impact 483 statewide tourism entities.
Preservation Virginia will use the VTC Recovery Marketing Leverage Program funds to promote its two museums located in Surry County: Bacon’s Castle and Smith’s Fort. The effort focuses on attracting both in-state and out-of-state tourists to experience Surry’s unique history. Dating back to 1665, Bacon’s Castle is the oldest brick dwelling in North America. The site includes a reconstructed 17th century English formal garden, as well as several outbuildings dating back to the 1700s and 1800s. Nearby along Gray’s Creek, the land comprising Smith’s Fort was given by Chief Wahunsenacawh (Powhatan) as a dowry for his daughter Pocahontas’ marriage to John Rolfe in 1614. Following the Civil War and Emancipation, the farm and manor house were purchased by several African American families including Bolling Morris, John and Carter Hardy and Robertson Simmons.
“This investment in heritage tourism by the Virginia Tourism Corporation is a huge help as we rebuild and recover in 2021,” said Elizabeth S. Kostelny, CEO of Preservation Virginia. “Historic sites serve their communities as both centers for education and economic engines through tourism. Bacon’s Castle and Smith’s Fort offer indoor and outdoor opportunities to learn about the people who shaped history, and this grant will help attract a growing audience to Surry County in 2021 and beyond.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the tourism and hospitality industries in Virginia. As the Commonwealth slowly reopens for business, VTC offered these grant funds as a first step to re-entry into the marketplace to spur economic activity and future travel across the Commonwealth of Virginia.
“Tourism is a crucial section of the Virginia economy and when we invest in this industry, we support local job creation and drive regional economic growth, which is desperately needed now due to the pandemic,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “These funds give localities and businesses access to critical marketing resources that will help bring more travelers to our Commonwealth, increase visitor spending, and grow demand for Virginia products.”
Tourism is one of the Commonwealth’s largest economic engines, with visitors to Surry County spending more than $10,965,789 in 2019, supporting 101 work opportunities and contributing $316,186 in local tax revenue. The tourism and hospitality industries have also been among the hardest-hit by the pandemic, experiencing decreased revenue and job loss, along with the temporary closure of many tourism-related businesses. A revived tourism economy can help spur new economic activity and inject critical funds back into Virginia communities.
About Preservation Virginia
Preservation Virginia is a private, nonprofit organization and statewide historic preservation leader that is dedicated to preserving, promoting and serving as an advocate for Virginia’s cultural and architectural history. In addition to performing advocacy work and hosting educational programs around the Commonwealth, Preservation Virginia owns and operates six historic sites open to the public. Visit preservationvirginia.org for more information.
About Virginia Tourism Corporation
Virginia Tourism Corporation is the state agency charged with marketing the Commonwealth as a premier travel and film destination. In 2019, visitors to Virginia spent $27 billion, which supported 237,000 work opportunities and contributed $1.8 billion in state and local taxes. To learn more, visit virginia.org