Virginia is for lovers… and Canadians definitely love it
(Photo above: Representatives from the northern area of Virginia were in Toronto recently and dropped by the offices of Canadian Travel Press. Seen here, from l to r, are Sana Keller-Canadian representative, Virginia Tourism; Jen Sigal – Loudoun County; Leah Spellman – Visit Alexandria; Ali Morris – Visit Fairfax; Cara O’Donnell – Arlington; Nicole Warner – Prince William County; and Christi Braginton – Virginia Tourism.)
If you’ve got clients looking for arts, culture, history, food, wine, beer and outdoor adventure to name just a few of its many attractions, then the northern area of Virginia may be just what they’re looking for.
There’s no doubt that the people who promote the region are sold on what it has to offer and during a recent visit to Toronto, representatives of the Virginia Tourism Corporation, StayArlington, Visit Alexandria, Visit Fairfax, Visit Loudoun and Visit Prince William County dropped by the offices of Canadian Travel Press to offer Canadian travel agents some good reasons for selling the region to their clients.
Virginia Tourism Corporation’s Christi Braginton told CTP that: “Canadians can reach Virginia in just nine to 10 hours by car and flights from Toronto to Washington Dulles International Airport or Reagan National Airport – both in Virginia – are only a little more than an hour. Once in Virginia, we offer everything you love about a great vacation.”
And credit where credit is due, Virginia has been marketing its tourism products and programs in Canada for a long, long time.
As Braginton points out: “Canada is Virginia’s number one international tourism market and tourism is one of the five largest industries in Virginia. It plays a critical role in our economic vitality. We want to welcome more and more Canadian visitors to our Commonwealth every year.”
A LONG LIST
A catchy slogan, hard work and a diverse product offering has certainly helped the state succeed here, with Braginton telling CTP: “Virginia really is for Lovers. Lovers of life and time spent with friends and family. We offer virtually everything you like to do on vacation – mountains, beaches, history, culture and arts, music, great food, beer and wine … the list is long and we spend a lot of time sharing that list.”
She notes as well that: “Virginia Tourism conducts regular missions to Canada to meet with travel professionals and share our latest offerings and attractions. We also regularly invite tour operators to visit Virginia to become familiar with our product. For consumers, we hold regular promotions like the Loonie Savers program in Virginia Beach that offers special discounts for our Canadian friends.”
Certainly this year will see the state welcome a number of new attractions, with Braginton observing: “There’s always a wealth of new attractions opening across Virginia. Slated for the next few months is The Observation Tower at Central Place in Arlington, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from our nation’s capital. She continued:
“Also this year, Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home, has launched a new exhibit ‘Be Washington’ where visitors can see how their decisions would stack up against our first president’s. Just south in Prince William County, the new Farm Brew Live offers brewery tours, dining, shopping, beer education and live entertainment all on one large campus, and in Alexandria the new water taxi service offers quick access from Virginia to D.C. and Maryland.”
Along with Braginton, CTP had a chance to chat with representatives from five different counties in what they describe as Virginia’s cultural region and here’s what they had to say:
CARA O’DONNELL – STAYARLINGTON
In 2018, it seems that Arlington will be all about the view.
As Cara O’Donnell with the Arlington Convention and Visitors Services explains, Arlington is welcoming a new 31 storey attraction – the Observation Deck at Central Place – that offers visitors a bird’s eye view of the Washington, D.C. skyline. It will also be the tallest building inside the Beltway once it opens on May 21.
It’s also an attraction that agents can sell and it fits neatly into O’Donnell’s key point for Canadian agents that the “big thing” about Arlington is the value proposition. By staying in Arlington, vacationers can see all of the nearby, ‘must-see’ sites, but they’ll also save “at least” 20% on their accommodations.
LEAH SPELLMAN – VISIT ALEXANDRIA
Nearby, Alexandria welcomes its visitors with its nifty Key to the City museum pass that offers access to eight historic sites – all for $15.
And 2018 is a good year to visit Alexandria, with Leah Spellman of Visit Alexandria telling CTP that there are some historic changes coming to the city’s waterfront.
In the fall of this year, a major new waterfront attraction will open at the intersection of the Potomac River and the city’s most historic retail corridor.
King Street Park at the Waterfront will feature an ice rink, live music, seasonal, pop-up programming, a beer garden and lots more.
ALI MORRIS – VISIT FAIRFAX
Great for families and easy to package, Virginia’s Fairfax County has a lot to offer vacationers. There are a 105 hotels in the area and virtually all of them are used to working with travel agents.
Visit Fairfax’s Ali Morris is also quick to point out that the county is where travellers will find George Washington’s home, Mount Vernon, but she also describes that area as “a historic home corridor” with a number of homes with a history to be found there.
Plus for those looking to put a little zip in their vacation, Morris said that in southern Fairfax County, Go Ape! Zip Line & Treetop Adventure has opened its largest zip line course to date in Springfield. So check it out.
JEN SIGAL – VISIT LOUDOUN
Okay, so who can’t like a county where they’ll find 40 wineries and 25 craft breweries and several car and/or limousine hire services that will take your clients on tours to them.
And Visit Loudon’s Jen Sigal is quick to point out that DC’s Wine Country – as the area is known – is great for agents to package up for their clients.
Plus Visit Loudoun’s DC Wine Country Passport offers some exclusive perks to 20 of the area’s 40 wineries, with a 3-day pass available for $25.
Sigal noted as well that Loudon County is home to two major resorts – the Salamander Resort which is well know for its equestrian program; and the Landsdowne Resort that has built its reputation on golf and wine tours and new in 2018, will be offering access to the Potomac for kayaking and fishing.
NICOLE WARNER – VISIT PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY
For something a little different, agents might want to suggest their clients check out Prince William County.
As Nicole Warner of Visit Prince William County told CTP, the area offers some unique options, including a good number of bed & breakfast accommodations like the Inn at Evergreen (www.innatevergreen.com) and others and noted that the proprietors are happy to work with travel agents.
The county also has a Steins, Vines & Moonshine Trail that features the newly opened 2 Silos Brewing/Farm Brew Live, Effingham Manor Winery and Sinistral Brewing on the route. There’s lots of music to be listened to in the county, plus visitors will also find there are several theatres.
For more on the Northern Virginia region, go to https://nvvc.virginia.org .
And for more on Virginia, visit www.VATC.org .