HARRISONBURG (November 18, 2020) — FairField Center has received $10,000 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.
FairField Center will use the VTC Recovery Marketing Leverage grant funds to help grow the online and mobile footprint of the Harrisonburg International Festival in support of international businesses in the region. The first segment of the Harrisonburg International Festival & Business Recovery Program will be the development and launch of a specially designed mobile app “Passport Tour” geared to connect visitors and residents to the area’s international businesses through the year. The self-guided, pandemic-sensitive tour will showcase international “gems” in and around Downtown Harrisonburg and encourage purchases in those businesses through incentives and prizes. The app will be followed up with enhanced website features, advertising, and social media content that spotlights local international entrepreneurs in the months leading up to the 2021 Harrisonburg International Festival.
“The Harrisonburg International Festival has a strong economic impact on the local tourism industry through attracting people to the area, supporting local tourism businesses and reinforcing Harrisonburg’s reputation as a diverse, vibrant, welcoming community. It impacts the quality of life of area residents which enjoy the festival each year. The $10,000 VTC grant award to the Harrisonburg International Festival will help the festival thrive and grow in 2021,” said Jennifer Bell, Tourism Manager for the City of Harrisonburg.
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 Harrisonburg spending more than $136 million in 2019, supporting 1,234 work opportunities and contributing over $10 million in local and state 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 FairField Center
Harrisonburg’s FairField Center was founded in 1982 and was originally known as the Community Mediation Center. It was the first mediation program established in Virginia. Since its inception, FairField Center has served a cross-section of Virginia’s population, providing not only interpersonal mediation services, but also restorative justice programs and facilitation and training to help resolve conflicts, enhance communication, and improve joint decision-making for schools, businesses, organizations, and communities-at-large. FairField Center’s civic engagement branch sponsors a range of community events, including the Harrisonburg International Festival.
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