Just how many people visited Virginia Beach last year? It’s a record-breaker, officials say

The Virginia Beach Oceanfront. (Joshua Weinstein/Southside Daily)
The Virginia Beach Oceanfront. (Joshua Weinstein/Southside Daily)

VIRGINIA BEACH — The Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau on Monday said the city set a new tourism milestone for total visitors and visitor spending in 2017 – 19 million domestic visitors who spent $2.45 billion.

Visitor arrivals grew for the eighth consecutive year with a 7.34 percent increase from 17.7 million visitors in 2016. Since 2009, visits to Virginia Beach increased by 38 percent, which is 13 percent above the national growth rate, due to strategic marketing efforts and positive visitor experience, according to Longwoods International’s Travel USA study.

“Record-breaking arrivals and spending is a testament of the strength of our tourism sector and the values of our city,” said Brad Van Dommelen, director of the Virginia Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We are fortunate that Virginia Beach is committed to our tourism product, which will keep us competitive and allow us to continue to grow arrivals and visitor spending, ultimately boosting the city’s economy to greater heights.”

Of the 19 million people who visited Virginia Beach last year, 8.9 million were day visitors (a nearly 10 percent increase from 2016), 10.1 million were overnight visitors to the area (up 5 percent from the previous year), and of the 10.1 million, 7.4 million stayed overnight in Virginia Beach.

Overnight visitors spent $1.92 billion and day visitors spent $539 million, a 6 percent and 7 percent increase respectively, according to the study.

The tourism industry continues to provide a significant positive impact to Virginia Beach’s economy, supporting an average of nearly 14,000 jobs in the hospitality industry, according to a news release from the city.

Estimates show visitors are expected to generate a record of at least $29.6 million dollars in occupancy tax collections for the city, according to the Economic Indicators Report from the City of Virginia Beach. These dollars are used to fund schools and government services, the tourism investment program (TIP), tourism advertising efforts, and enhance the overall quality of life of Virginia Beach residents, according to the city.

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John Mangalonzo (john@localvoicemedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.