Virginia: all about quality of life and you’ve got to love that
Pictured above: from l to r, are Jacinthe Pare from Virginia Beach; Amanda Livingston from Abingdon, Virginia; Sana Keller, Canadian representative for Virginia; Virginia Tourism Corporation’s Jane Lammay; Alexandria, Virginia’s Jennifer De Luca; Loudoun, Virginia’s Jennifer Ritter; and Charlottesville, Virginia’s Brigitte Belanger-Warner.
Virginia has always been for lovers, but over the past two decades or so it has also given Canadians – and their travel agents – a whole bunch of very particular reasons to fall in love with its many and varied tourism offerings.
In fact, Jane Lammay, who handles international marketing for the Virginia Tourism Corporation, is quick to tell you that “Virginia is for lovers of life,” a nifty little tag on to the original “Virginia is for Lovers” motto, and one that reflects the diversity of experiences that Canadian visitors are now discovering.
During a recent trade mission to Canada, Lammay told Canadian Travel Press that Virginia is ramping up its marketing messaging with a host of new themes that truly represent all of the things that the state has on offer.
Joined on the trip by representatives from Virginia Beach, Abingdon, Alexandria, Loudon, and Charlottesville, Lammay explained that the state is “now marketing its different drivers” which include music, food, history, outdoor activities, mountain tourism, the LGBT market, wine, craft beer, film and, of course, the beach.
As for the message from the destinations on hand in Toronto, they had lots to tell that touched on all of those drivers. So, here’s a quick roundup of what they had to say.
Jacinthe Pare of the Virginia Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau
Well known for its Boardwalk, Pare is quick to point out that Virginia Beach has a whole lot more to offer its Canadian visitors.
To begin with, she told CTP that along with offering visitors three distinct beach experiences, Virginia Beach also offers a wide range of natural wonders, a vibrant downtown district and fresh coastal cuisine.
But perhaps best of all, Pare told the audience in Toronto: “Virginia Beach is all about quality of life and getting outdoors for as long as you can.”
Brigitte Belanger-Warner of the Charlottesville Albemarle Convention & Visitors Bureau
Canadians will find lots of history in Charlottesville, including Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, as well as the homes of two other American presidents, James Madison and James Monroe.
But it’s also the home to some 30 wineries, five golf courses, loads of eclectic restaurants featuring farm-to-table cuisine that’s a way of life and a nifty, eight-block downtown pedestrian mall area that’s great for shopping, and more.
The upshot, said Belanger-Warner, is that: “Charlottesville is hip and it’s not to be missed.”
Jennifer Ritter of Visit Loudoun
Located 40 kilometres from Washington, DC, and home to Dulles International Airport, Ritter describes Loudoun as DC’s wine country, although she also points out that the county has an ale trail that currently has 20 craft breweries and is growing rapidly.
Ritter’s also quick to tell you about two “amazing” resorts in Loudon, the Lansdowne Resort and the Salamander Resort & Spa, plus the area’s history, dining, festivals, and a whole lot more.
Jennifer De Luca of Visit Alexandria
What can you say about George Washington’s hometown, well a lot… really… a lot.
As De Luca will tell you not only is Alexandria steeped in history, it also has that small town feel that’s complemented by its Old Town which hums with over 200 independent restaurants and boutiques alongside historic museums and a happening waterfront area.
Not to mention the fact that it’s real close to Washington, DC. All of which makes it a must-see for Canadians headed to Virginia.
Amanda Livingston of Visit Abingdon
The first thing that Livingston tells you is that this is Abingdon’s first foray into the Canadian market, but judging by the reaction of those attending the Toronto event, it won’t be the last.
Describing it as a mountain destination in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Livingston told CTP that Abingdon is the gateway to outdoor recreation and Appalachian culture and music.
In fact, Abingdon is the headquarters of the Crooked Road which is southwest Virginia’s heritage music trail.
It’s also home to the Virginia Creeper Trail which is popular with cyclists, welcoming over 150,000 visitors each year.
As to the question: “Why Canada?” Livingston said simply “it’s a great fit for us” offering visitors what she describes as a “small town, but sophisticated experience.”
For the Canadian market, which has been carefully cultivated over the years, the message that state tourism officials are sending out is definitely receiving a positive response.
Lammay pointed out that Canada continues to be the state’s largest and most important international market, with Virginia welcoming close to 550,000 Canadians each year – about 60% of that traffic is drive traffic, with the remaining 40% arriving by air.
And, as she sees it, the new marketing initiative has a simple message as its bottom line and that’s that Virginia provides its visitors with “authentic experiences that you can’t get anywhere else.”
So, you see, it’s true, Virginia is for lovers of life.