Capping off another year of sustained growth and increasing tourism revenue, Visit Loudoun celebrated the people who made it happen with the organization’s 21st Annual Meeting and Tourism Awards ceremony May 11.
“That was a stellar year,” said Visit Loudoun CEO Beth Erickson. “Our industry is not just an important revenue generator but integral to the overall quality of life in Loudoun County.”
Loudoun’s tourism industry has been a key economic driver for the county, helping increase revenues to the point that the county’s Board of Supervisors could increase spending while cutting taxes for its upcoming budget year. Loudoun tourism employs nearly 17,000 workers, more than the combined workforce totals of the county’s public schools and government services. Visitors spent $1.64 billion in Loudoun in 2015, generating $43.6 million in state and local taxes.
Last year, Loudoun saw 96,182 total quest room nights generate a 252 percent increase over 2015. The county also saw a more-than 26 percent year-over-year increase in sporting events held in Loudoun, as well a 29 percent increase in room nights for weddings.
Visit Loudoun attributes these success to a lengthy list of sales missions, tours, site visits and trade shows. Last year, Visit Loudoun officials met with 171 tour and travel operators from 22 different countries, attended 15 trade shows and five familiarization tours.
This complements ongoing efforts to promote the county’s wineries and breweries, one of Loudoun’s key growth industries. That includes the newly formed Loudoun County Artisan Trail, which will bring artisans, vintners, brewers, artists and other craftsmen together to mutually promote their work to visitors and county residents.
Tourism officials at the awards ceremony also lauded local legislators on the Board of Supervisors and within the General Assembly for passing Senate Bill 1578. This bill, supported by Loudoun’s Board and passed by the General Assembly, allows localities to regulate and collect taxes from short-term rental services like Airbnb. The bill garnered bipartisan support, and proponents say it will generate more government revenue while allowing regulators and tourism organizations more opportunity to assure visitors high-quality rooms when they come to Loudoun.
“This legislation will not only level the playing field, but allow us to work and promote this growing and important part of the hospitality industry,” Erickson said.
At the ceremony, Visit Loudoun officials acknowledged that none of this would be possible without the tourism professionals that work to attract visitors and make them want to return. To celebrate these efforts, Visit Loudoun recognized 12 tourism professionals, events and organizations in 11 different categories.
2016 Award Winners
2016 Annual Tourism Event of the Year: 78th Annual Ladies Board Rummage Sale
2016 New Tourism Event of the Year: United States Specialty Sports Association Class “C” National Championships
2016 Tourism Branding, Marketing or Promotional Campaign of the Year: Go Big Campaign, National Conference Center
2016 Tourism Volunteer of the Year: Bonnie Getty, Chair, Waterford Fair Historic Homes Tour
2016 Manager of the Year Tourism Award: Mark Underwood, Ford’s Fish Shack
2016 Tourism Action Award: National Conference Center Project Search
2016 Back of the House Hero Tourism Award Reina Ruiz, Assistant Housekeeping Manager, Hampton Inn Cascades and German Lopez, Grounds Technician, Goodstone Inn & Restaurant
2016 #LoveLoudoun Ambassador Tourism Award: Jamil Chaudhry, Bellman, National Conference Center
2016 Steve Hines Partner of the Year: Stone Tower Winery
2016 Distinguished Partnership Award: Bechtel Panda Stonewall Power Project
2016 Judy Patterson Tourism Award: Dr. Sheila Johnson, Salamander Resort & Spa and Middleburg Film Festival