‘Wise investment’

Published 11:59 pm Saturday, October 29, 2011

Taxes from tourism increased in 2010

For every dollar it invested in tourism in 2010, the city got $3.88 back in local taxes from visitor spending.

That’s according to numbers recently released by the Virginia Tourism Corporation. The data is based on spending by travelers from more than 50 miles away.

“It’s very exciting,” said Theresa Earles, tourism development coordinator for the city. “The fact that we’re not just maintaining during this down economy, that we’re actually growing, is pretty good.”

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The city collected about $1.75 million in local tax receipts from visitors to the city last year in tourism-supported industries such as hotels, restaurants, vehicle fuel and entertainment. That represented growth of about 3.4 percent from 2009.

That’s compared to tourism department spending of only $450,500 for fiscal year 2010.

“It’s a pretty wise investment, and we continue to grow,” Earles said. “We keep attracting people.”

The tourism industry in Suffolk also supported about 570 jobs, according to the data. Visitors spent a total of $55.7 million in the city last year — about a 6-percent increase from 2009.

Earles said the numbers are adjusted to account for resident spending on those items.

“Virginia Tourism takes into consideration the fact that residents also contribute,” she said. “They’ve formulated a system that only considers what visitors spend.”

Earles said the full impact of tourism in Suffolk probably is not portrayed by the report because many attractions in Suffolk have free or donation-only admission, meaning those sites are not collecting admissions taxes.

“Certainly, people are going to attractions that are not necessarily being counted by this report because a lot of our attractions are free, which we like,” she said.

Across Virginia, tourists contributed about $1.3 billion to state and local coffers. Visitor spending increased 6.7 percent from 2009.

“The increase in revenue from tourism is very encouraging,” Gov. Bob McDonnell said in a press release announcing the numbers. “Tourism is an instant revenue generator and job creator for Virginia, which is why I continue to advocate for more resources for tourism marketing.”