History Pays

Heritage tourism is on the rise in the Commonwealth.

Cape Henry Lighthouse in Virginia Beach.

A recent study commissioned by Preservation Virginia and published by the Center for Urban and Regional Analysis at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs confirms that heritage tourism continues to be a major economic driver in the state, drawing nearly 43 million visitors who spend $7.7 billion annually and help support more than 100,000 jobs in the Commonwealth.

Preservation Virginia CEO Elizabeth Kostelny says, “Visitors are telling us that heritage tourism is more of a broad, rather than a narrowly defined experience. It’s not just visiting a battlefield or historic house museums. It’s shopping in a historic district, eating dinner in a rehabilitated setting, walking through history in a way.” She adds, “We find that what draws people to where history happens is that they can stand where people came before them.”

The latest study focuses on historic sites in three geographically diverse regions: the Eastern Shore, Southwest Virginia, and Alexandria and Northern Virginia. The latter region is replete with visitor-friendly heritage sites—including Mount Vernon, Arlington National Cemetery, Fort Ward Museum and Historic Site, and George Mason’s Gunston Hall—that offer proximity to major transport hubs. PreservationVirginia.org

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