Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today that Canada is Virginia’s number one source of international tourism, as visitation and spending continues to grow each year.
In 2014, Canadians spent almost $214 million in the Commonwealth, a record spent over any year prior. Additionally, Virginia welcomed more than 600,000 Canadian visitors in 2014, an 18% increase over 2013*.
The Governor made the announcement during a marketing and trade mission to Boston, Montreal, and Toronto. Joining him on the mission are Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore and representatives from the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC), the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The delegation visited Canada to generate more tourism, business investment and trade activity for Virginia.
“The continued growth of Virginia’s tourism industry is a key strategy in our work to diversify and build a new Virginia economy, and it is gratifying to see that our efforts to drive visitors to the Commonwealth are working,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Virginia’s rich history, natural beauty, and surging culinary scene make it a top U.S. destination for Canadian tourists and business travelers. Canada has been and remains the homeland of the largest share of international visitors year after year and these missions play a major role in ensuring that visitors all over the world know what Virginia has to offer.”
The majority of Canadians drive to Virginia, which is only a day’s drive from Toronto or Montréal, but air travel is on the rise. Total air passenger volume has increased almost 50% since Porter Airlines began service to Washington Dulles International, located in Chantilly, Virginia, in April 2012. In addition, Air Canada began new non-stop service on May 2, 2016, operating three flights daily between Dulles International Airport and Toronto Pearson Airport.
“Air Canada is very pleased to offer this new service to Washington Dulles International Airport. Our three-times daily flights are designed to accommodate the many Canadians who travel to Virginia for business or to explore the region’s appealing tourist and historic sites. Air Canada is Canada’s largest airline and the foreign carrier that operates the most flights to the USA, so the addition of Dulles in Virginia is a natural extension of our growing global network,” said Lisa Pierce, Senior Director, USA Sales and Market Development at Air Canada.
Personalized, local and authentic travel experiences offered across the Commonwealth also contributed to the increase in visitation and spending in 2014. Canadian visitors enjoyed experiential travel activities: visiting 36 state parks and 28 miles of warm, sunny beaches; sipping wine at one of 275+ wineries; tasting oysters from one of Virginia's seven oyster regions; listening to music along 300 miles of the Crooked Road Music Heritage Trail; and cruising more than 3,000 miles of scenic roadways, taking travelers to coastal beauty, mountain vistas, quaint small towns, and historical sites. These unique tourism businesses and products are important economic drivers for Virginia.
“Canadian visitors help propel the Virginia economy,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones. “Visitor traffic has grown impressively in the past year. We’re excited to be in Canada to generate more tourism and commercial activity. The addition of Air Canada’s flights will make it even easier for Canadian visitors and business travelers to come and experience everything Virginia has to offer. It is a great testament to the Canadian demand for travel to Virginia and the Capital Region.”
VTC is the state agency responsible for marketing Virginia to visitors and promoting the 47-year old Virginia is for Lovers brand. Virginia is for Lovers is the longest-running state tourism slogan in the country. Virginia is for Lovers stands for love, pure and simple, and promotes the state as the ideal destination for loved ones to completely connect on a great vacation. Virginia is for Lovers was named one of the top 10 tourism marketing campaigns of all time by Forbes and was inducted into the National Advertising Walk of Fame in 2009.
*Data Sources: Stats Canada, 2013 and 2014 Data; VTC Canadian Attitudinal Data, 2014; Conference Board Canada; U.S. Travel Association
Note about the Stats Canada Data: Modernization of data collection process at borders and digital technology have allowed countries to better track entries in and out of Canada and distribute surveys digitally. As a result – 2013 data was delayed and comparison of 2013 data from Stats Canada to the previous years should be made with caution. Per Stats Canada: “In 2013, the International Travel Survey (ITS) implemented a major modernization initiative to improve the quality of its data and processes. This investment has allowed ITS to simplify its collection tools, to automate the data capture and processing as well as to introduce an electronic questionnaire. The modernization of the ITS has resulted in better estimates for the international travellers characteristics and spending. Any historical data comparisons should be made with caution.”