Agency Strategic Plan
4/20/2014   9:18 am
Virginia Tourism Authority (320)
Biennium:
Mission and Vision

Mission Statement
The Virginia Tourism Authority (VTA) is a creative and dynamic organization blazing new paths in marketing for the tourism and film industries in Virginia to bring more visitors and film producers to the Commonwealth; to get them staying longer; and to spend more money.
Vision Statement
To foster a spirit of partnership within Virginia’s tourism and motion picture industries to develop and implement innovative and effective programs and initiatives that will grow the industries and increase economic impact and jobs, resulting in a greater tax base for localities and the state.
Executive Progress Report

Service Performance and Productivity
  • Summary of current service performance
    To achieve its purpose to create commerce through tourism, the Virginia Tourism Authority receives appropriations from the General Assembly to market Virginia as a premier travel destination. That investment is coordinated through the Authority and leveraged with the private sector to extend marketing reach.

    The Authority develops a strategic marketing plan based upon visitor research and trends of the traveling public. This plan is manifested in strategies that include domestic and international sales and marketing, advertising, electronic marketing, public relations, film, tourism development, customer service and industry relations.

    With a full-time staff of 71, the Authority works with the private-sector tourism industry and communities to increase tourism expenditures in the Commonwealth. The Authority offers strategy programs to the private-sector industry to allow tourism businesses to pool their resources with those of the Authority and reach markets they would not be able to reach on their own. Further, the Authority provides technical and some financial assistance to communities, entrepreneurs and projects to increase tourism.

    The Authority measures not only the overall economic impact of tourism on the Commonwealth’s economy but also the effectiveness of major programs, such as advertising and travel trends, to be able to modify the plan at any time to capitalize upon strategies that bring the greatest return on investment.

    The Virginia Film Office provides services to the film and video industry to increase domestic and international motion picture production throughout Virginia. This goal is supported by four main objectives:

    1. Provide filmmakers with financial and other incentives to attract more film and video production to the state, which will create jobs and encourage the purchase of Virginia-based goods and services.
    2. Promote Virginia to decision-makers with an aggressive marketing strategy and with thorough and timely responses to clients.
    3. Support and promote the growth of Virginia’s network of resources, thereby increasing the attractiveness of the state to clients.
    4. Support Virginia’s expanding indigenous production industry.
  • Summary of current productivity
    The Authority has been successful in the following areas:

    - Website visitation for FY2009 was up 10.3% over FY2008 reaching more than 6.5 million unique daily users seeking information on travel in Virginia an average of 18,000 per day.
    - Welcome Center reservations services were provided to more than 5,200 visitors in FY2009 extending the stays of visitors in the Commonwealth. The number of visitors assisted could have been higher had not welcome centers hours been reduced for renovation during the fiscal year due to reduced funding levels.
    - Leveraged $1 million in print and media placement costs with $3.5 million from private sector partners for a total of $4.5 million promoting Virginia tourism.
    - Initiated a marketing assistance matching grant program for Virginia localities and marketing partnerships. In its first full year of operation 72 grants totaling $804,138 were awarded with matching by grantees totaling more than $2.9 million.
    - Film office won a first place and an honorable mention in marketing awards issued by the Association of Film Commissioners International.
    - Created an exceptional film internship program in cooperation with Virginia universities and secondary schools.
    - Developed a formalized statewide network of local film liaisons trained to assist production companies when the companies film in the liaisons’ localities.
Initiatives, Rankings and Customer Trends
  • Summary of Major Initiatives and Related Progress
    Three major initiatives are part of the VTA strategy: Virginia is for Lovers "Live Passionately" campaign, tourism product and workforce development, and film production.

    1. Virginia is For Lovers "Live Passionately" campaign.
    This campaign, which began in August 2007, attempts to shift the old Virginia image and brand recognition to a "Live Passionately" theme. The marketing program is designed to reach out to the individual who is passionate about travel. Whether it be music, food, history, kayaking, beach, sports or nature -- Virginia is the destination to feed those passions. All of VTA's marketing and promotions programs are integrated to reflect the Virginia is for Lovers "Live Passionately" theme.
    "Virginia is for Lovers" is one of the most highly recognized tourism slogans in the world. 2009 marks the 40th anniversary of the popular state tourism slogan and logo. Launched in 1969, it is a brand that has endured and is supported by superior product and vacation experience. Today, it represents a love of life and a passion for travel. Virginia is for Lovers invites visitors to live out their love of history, wine, music, nature, beaches, small towns and cities and more on vacation in Virginia. The VTA will be using this recognition and impetus to launch a campaign in 2010 that plays on its strengths.

    2. Partnership Alliance Marketing.
    A Partnership Alliance Marketing program provides a venue by which the Authority assists the tourism entity in product development, strategic planning, tourism promotion, workforce development and funding. A matching grants program, when funded, is made available to assist industry members in developing and implementing tourism programs, marketing, workforce development and other initiatives . Five specific areas are identified in this program: strategic planning, tourism product development, tourism industry assistance, trail development and funding assistance.

    3. Film Production.
    The long arms of the "John Adams" mini-series, a Film Office project with HBO, has had a lasting impact on the Commonwealth. The recognition that has resulted in hosting this prestigious production continues and has brought continued media coverage. The serieis won 13 Emmys in September 2008 and four Golden Gloves at the January 2009 awards show. Tom Hanks and Paul Giamatti thanked the state of Virginia on-air in their acceptance speeches. Tom Hanks appears in a PSA promoting Colonial Williamsburg on the CW Foundation's website. The VFO negotiated with HBO to maintain the $5 million colonial sets in order to recruit furture productions. The state's $1.25 million investment in the series resulted in $80 million in spending and more than $2 million in media exposure.

    Created by the Film Office in 2008, the Virginia Independent Film Festival at the Byrd Theatre is in its second year. The idea to create an event featuring the best of independent filmmaking for Virginians and by Virginians received overwhelming reviews from film professionals and students across the state. The 2009 Festival had 80 entries from five colleges and professionals, up 30% from the previous year. Because of this developmental Festival, filmmakers have entered other festivals and three films have gone on to win other awards and recognition outside of Virginia. This Festival complements the state receiving MovieMaker Magazine's designation as a Top 10 Best State for independent filmmaking in the country.

    Since July 2008, the Film Office has recruited and supported 38 comvercials, feature films, TV reality shows, documentaries and the CBS TV pilot production "Body Politic" to film in the state. The direct spending is an estimated $22 million for these productions. The total overall economic impact for film production in the state will be reported in September 2009.
  • Summary of Virginia's Ranking
    According to the United States Travel Association (USTA), Virginia is ranked 10th in domestic visitor spending. The economic contribution of travel and tourism on the Commonwealth, including both direct and indirect impacts, is estimated at $18.7 billion for 2007, providing more than 210,000 jobs.

    In a partnership consisting of Virginia, Washington D.C., Maryland and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, the Capital Region USA generates approximately $1.3 billion (2008 data) in annual economic impact from international visitors. Another $238 (2007 data) million in visitor spending comes into the region from Canadian visitors.

    Virginia ranks approximately 14th in film production nationally with an economic impact of more than $786 million in 2008.

    The Authority reports the following service performances for 2009 when compared with 2008 levels:

    -Virginia Tourism Website visitation up 10.3%
    -Virginia Welcome Center Visitation up 15%

    The Authority has won numerous awards during the past year including Best Advertising Campaign, Best Travel Guide, Best Niche Marketing, Best Cooperative Marketing from USTA.
  • Summary of Customer Trends and Coverage
    The Authority works with state agencies, Virginia localities, the Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association, the Virginia Convention and Visitors Bureau, destination marketing organizations, chambers of commerce, local convention and visitor bureaus, attractions, and numerous other tourism entities in the Commonwealth. In a sense, these are the VTA’s customers. The Authority works in partnership with many of these organizations to promote the Commonwealth as a travel destination. Through this "customer base" Virginia tourism products are marketed and promoted to the visiting public to encourage more travelers to stay longer and spend more money in the Commonwealth.

    In addition to highlighting its unique selling points, the Authority's marketing programs take current travel trends into account and appeal to the consumer’s planning considerations and desires in a travel experience. Basically VTA wants to know Virginia’s Visitor Profile: who, what, where, why and how far? The trend has indicated that the following impact the traveler’s trip planning decisions:

    -Economic Conditions - closer to home, family travel, looking for deals, low consumer confidence
    -Time Poverty
    -Stress
    -Shorter booking time
    -Weekend Travel
    -Travel with Pets
    -Epicurean Vacations
    -Experiential Vacations
    -Learning Vacations
    -Accessible Travel
    -Wellness Vacations
    -Girl friend getaways

    The studies indicate that the top activities enjoyed by Virginia tourists include:

    -History, Heritage & Culture
    -Outdoor and Natural Resources
    -Family Fun

    While Virginia visitors enjoy the state’s history, heritage, culture and outdoor resources, some products that are not as familiar but have great potential for growth include:

    -Wine Country and Epicurean Tours
    -Learning Vacations
    -Outdoor Recreation
    -Virginia Trails (Civil War, Colonial, Music)

    Virginia's primary and secondary domestic target markets and demographic targets are based on the results of a 2007/2008 Virginia Travel Profile study.

    Primary Source Markets (Primary source of visitors to Virginia):
    -Washington, DC
    -Baltimore
    -Raleigh/Charlotte/Greensboro NC

    Secondary Source Markets:
    -New York
    -Philadelphia
    -Atlanta
    -Cleveland
    -Greenville/Myrtle Beach SC

    The primary demographic profile of the Virginia visitor is:
    -Families with Children/Couples
    -Age: 25-44
    -Household Income: $75K (middle to upper middle class)
    -Education: College
    -Average spending: $334
    -Length of stay: 3 days/2 nights

    The secondary demographic profile of the Virginia visitor is:

    -Party size: Couples/Families
    -Age: Parents 35 - 54
    -Household Income: $75K
    -Education: College
    -Average spending: $709
    -Length of stay: 4 days/3 nights

    The Virginia Film Office’s target audience is comprised of those responsible for producing film, video, television and multi-media projects that include feature films, network and cable television episodes, movies-of-the-week, miniseries, commercials, documentaries, and videos, such as industrial, educational or military productions. The people primarily involved in choosing where productions will be shot are the producer, director, location manager and/or production designer. Although Virginia hosts projects from all over the United States and the world, the Film Office’s primary marketing emphasis is on Los Angeles, New York and the mid-Atlantic region, with a secondary emphasis on overseas markets, such as London and Europe.

    The Authority’s "customers" are the travelers and industry partners. The make up of the traveler in the future will change due to baby boomers retiring. While the primary drivers for travelers to Virginia may not change substantially, the age of the average traveler will change. The older traveler tends to travel more often; taking shorter duration trips and participates in smaller boutique group trips. As a result, group tour companies have to accommodate the changing needs of the older traveler. To accommodate this changing demographic, the Authority has integrated within its marketing programs techniques targeting older travelers to encourage visits to Virginia. Such programs include itinerary based visits, getaways, wine tours, spas and group tour plans, etc.
Future Direction, Expectations, and Priorities
  • Summary of Future Direction and Expectations
    With advice from the Board of Directors and in cooperation with the private-sector tourism industry, VTA will continue to execute an overall tourism plan based on research, focused on product development, creative and innovative partnership marketing and workforce training. The Authority will continue to identify growth potential and inspire investment from both the public and private sectors in tourism development. It will reinforce its commitment to excellence in marketing, will continue advocacy on all levels for public and private tourism investment and will prioritize growth areas to ensure continued visitor spending growth.

    Although great strides have been made, changes in agency leadership at state agencies involved in tourism--such as the Departments of Game and Inland Fisheries, Conservation and Recreation, Historic Resources, Transportation, Housing and Community Development, Agriculture, Forestry, the Marine Resources Commission, the Racing Commission and the Tobacco Commission, etc.--will continue to tax the agencies to collaborate. The Authority is committed to enhanced communication and collaboration in areas of mutual benefit.

    Virginia has shown a steady growth in the economic impact of production since the Film Office was founded in 1980. For the period of 1991 – 2002, the industry grew more than 600 percent. In 2003, this upward pattern changed and production revenue decreased 9.7%. There were several economic and social factors that contributed to this: one of the most significant was the creation of incentive funds in competitor states. Business went to Virginia’s competition as a result. The Virginia Film Office estimates that the Commonwealth lost more than $1 billion in film production benefit because of the lack of an incentive program. Despite these losses, the film industry grew from $510 million in 2004 to $597 million in 2006.

    The filmed entertainment industry is a growth industry, projected by Price Waterhouse Coopers in 2005 to grow 7.5% over five years. In fact, it has grown steadily for a long time. This is not projected to end soon, due to the globalization of the industry. What does this mean for Virginia? Entertainment and gaming is the kind of industry the state should be recruiting. The Commonwealth would capture none of this market without incentives. Incentive programs have become an important factor in attracting film production to the Commonwealth. Thirty-nine states currently have significant financial incentives to attract film production. For example, North Carolina, in 2009, increased its film production tax incentive from 15% to 25%, up to $7.5 million. The tax credit covers all expenditures for a production made in the state: it is not limited to credits for below-the-line spending, as is the case for many other filming incentivers in other states. This incentive could attract small to mid-level films needing a local crew to support them.
  • Summary of Potential Impediments to Achievement
    A non-dedicated stream of funding continues to challenge the health of the Virginia Tourism Authority. An unpredictable budget and again being challenged to further reduce funding, presents great challenges in long-term planning and marketing and greatly inhibits the Authority’s ability to create a greater tax base by attracting more tourists. Continued advocacy and educating public officials at all levels to the value of public investment in tourism, the nature of the industry and the best way to achieve marketing goals adds to the burden on already stretched human resources. In recent years, some competitor states received millions of dollars of additional appropriations to promote their respective tourism industry and film production, which has contributed to a very competitive arena in which Virginia will compete.

    The Authority receives $1.2 million annually from the Virginia Department of Transportation to support the operations of Virginia's welcome centers. This funding level is not sufficient to cover the total cost operations of these centers. Further, to provide the public with greater customer service, the Authority provides reservation assistance to travelers seeking accommodations. While, in the recent past, the General Assembly appropriated $20 million for welcome center and rest area improvements, most of these facilities are generally inadequate to serve the millions of visitors who visit Virginia annually. More funds need to be dedicated to improve these facilities. Additionally, recent closures of rest areas and a welcome center may negatively impact traveler experience in Virginia.

    In the Film Office, the prevalence of incentives in other states and countries greatly challenges Virginia’s ability to attract large film projects. Nationwide, 36 states have significant financial incentive packages. Of these, eight are direct Virginia competitors. These states are: Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania and South Carolina.

    Illinois: Direct film revenue increased 300% from $25 million to $75 million with $5.5 million in tax credits issued.
    Louisiana: $20 million in incentives resulted in $300 million in spending in two years
    Pennsylvania: More production in one year than in the previous two combined.
    Utah: $1 million in incentives increased production by 74%

    The absence of an aggressive, funded incentive program and a formal infrastructure to educate, train and develop a labor force will result in the Commonwealth losing ground to those states and countries that provide such programs.
Service Area List

Service Number Title
320 536 06 Financial Assistance for Tourist Promotion
320 536 07 Tourist Promotion Services
Agency Background Information

Statutory Authority
The statutory authority exists in the Code of Virginia, § 2.2-2315 through § 2.2-2327.

The Virginia Tourism Authority, doing business as the Virginia Tourism Corporation, serves the broader interests of the economy of Virginia by supporting, maintaining and expanding the Commonwealth’s domestic and international travel market and motion picture production, thereby generating increased visitor expenditures, tax revenues and employment. The Corporation develops and implements programs beneficial to Virginia travel-related and motion picture production-related businesses and/or consumers that no industry component or organization would be expected to carry out on its own.

The Virginia Tourism Authority (VTA) is a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia, authorized to do business as the "Virginia Tourism Corporation” (VTC). It was created on July 1, 1999. Prior to July 1999, Virginia Tourism was a division within the Virginia Economic Development Partnership. The VTA has a Board of Directors comprised of 15 members, including the Secretary of Commerce and Trade, the Secretary of Finance, the Secretary of Natural Resources and twelve members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the General Assembly. The Governor designates the Chairman of the Board, and the Board elects one member as the Vice-Chairman. The Executive Director of the VTA is appointed by the Governor and reports to the Secretary of Commerce and Trade. The Board of Directors serves in an advisory capacity to the Executive Director who serves as the Board’s ex-officio secretary-treasurer.

The VTA’s headquarters are located in Richmond. In addition, the VTA operates 10 state Welcome Centers located strategically around the state and the Bell Tower in Capitol Square in Richmond to provide information to people traveling in Virginia. Two welcome centers were acquired by the Authority -- Potomac Gateway Visitor Center in King George County and the Danville Welcome Center. The Danville Welcome Center continues to be operated by the City of Danville through a Memorandum of Agreement. The Potomac Gateway Center was closed in November 2008 due to budget reductions. Additionally, the New Kent Rest Area on I64 east bound was renovated in partnership with the Virginia Department of Transportation and regional tourism partners to provide a Welcome Center as an entry point to the Hampton Roads area of the Commonwealth. In September 2009, the Manassas Welcome Center on I66 will be closed indefinately due to Virginia Department of Transportation budget reductions.

Customers
Customer Group Customers served annually Potential customers annually
Advertising Partners 150 0
Convention, Sports and Meeting Centers 780 0
Directors, Producers, Location Managers, Production Designers 203 0
Group Tour Lead Generation & Sales Calls 1,642 0
Public Media, News Releases, Articles, Editorials 250 0
Regional Grant Recipients 150 0
Requestors of Travel Information 360,900 0
Tourism Business Employees 2,500 210,000
Tourism Businesses 1,000 12,000
Travel Writers, Journalists, and Media 980 3,000
Website Visitors - Consumers 6,645,547 0
Website Visitors - Industry 180,515 0
Welcome Center Advertisers 800 12,000
Welcome Centers Visitors 2,033,758 0

Anticipated Changes To Agency Customer Base
[Nothing entered]

Partners
Partner Description
Capital Region USA (CRUSA) Capital Region USA (CRUSA) is a not-for-profit tourism coalition comprised of the Virginia Tourism Authority, Destination DC, Maryland Office of Tourism Development and Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority. Through shared resources and vision, CRUSA strives to increase visitation and economic impact to the region from targeted international markets supported by non-stop daily flights to Virginia’s Dulles International Airport by implementing strategic marketing programs and developing public- and private-sector partnerships. The partnership was created because each destination region lacked the financial or human resources to market to the European and Latin American markets by itself. This is an effective means to pool resources to jointly market overseas to direct tourists to the region.
Department of Game & Inland Fisheries, Department of Conservation & Recreation, Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Historic Resources, Department of Housing and Community Development The Authority works with other Executive Branch Agencies to develop tourism product, enhance existing product, liaison with industry to provide quality visitor experiences and to support the tourism industry through grants, funding and advisory services.
Tourism Marketing Partners The Authority tries to leverage its limited marketing funds at least 2:1 through strategic partnerships and by offering cooperative advertising opportunities to Virginia’s tourism industry. The Authority recognizes that partnerships are critical to success and vital in times of scarce financial resources. Therefore, cultivating partnerships and identifying corporate sponsorships are primary focuses for stretching Virginia’s resources and reaching a broader audience to attract visitors.
Virginia Department of Transportation With VDOT, the Authority seeks to improve traveler services and experiences at the state's rest areas and welcome centers. Through this partnership, visitors are provided greater opportunity to obtain visitor information through enhancement of services offered at these sites. The Authority also works with VDOT to plan improvements to enhance the visitor's experience while traveling on Virgnia's interstate highways.
Products and Services
  • Description of the Agency's Products and/or Services:
    Sales and marketing is responsible for planning, implementing, and evaluating direct sales and marketing activities to promote Virginia as a travel destination in selected domestic and international markets. Promotional efforts are based on research, planned and leveraged with Virginia’s travel industry partners. These efforts are accomplished through direct sales activities that target tour operators, receptive operators, group leaders, teachers, travel agents, airline sales managers, American and Canadian Automobile Association offices, meeting planners, convention and asssociation planners,and sports marketing stake holders. Staff reaches these audiences primarily by attending trade and consumer shows, personal sales calls, industry sales missions, client events and sponsorships, and site inspection tours of Virginia. Staff and Virginia travel industry partners develop travel itineries and packages to entice visitors to Virginia.

    Research is the basis for the Authority's marketing, advertising and promotion efforts. The Research section compiles, evaluates, and disseminates marketing and economic travel information, including visitor volume and niche travel segment visitor profiles. This information is also used by Virginia localities to assist in directing their advertising, public relations, and other marketing efforts. Research data are gathered using multiple resources such as: visitor surveys that identify the habits and characteristics of travelers who visit Virginia; data gathered from government and private sources for economic impact and employment statistics; and research on the Authority's marketing and advertising efforts to measure the effectiveness of the programs.

    Public relations stimulates visitation to Virginia through promotional communication tools and media coverage designed to motivate travelers to visit, stay longer, and see more of Virginia’s historic, romantic, scenic, and culinary destinations. Specific tools used include mass-distributed news releases and feature articles, one-on-one pitches to top media in targeted markets; involvement in the national tourism industry through active participation in councils and boards; working with communications officers of regional and national tourism organizations; and issuing monthly newsletters distributed to tourism marketers.

    Advertising is responsible for coordinating the consumer advertising program and assuring that the message is effective in attracting visitors to the Commonwealth. This service directs and approves advertising programs, including production and placement of print media in magazines, newspapers, outdoor, online and websites, production and placement of ads on television and radio, and coordination of in-state marketing campaigns. The Authority maintains an extensive library of Virginia photography and video that is made available to travel media (print and broadcast), tour operators, the Virginia travel industry, and other travel-related organizations.

    Electronic marketing is responsible for enhancing, marketing, and maintaining the Authority's consumer website, (www.Virginia.org), and the Virginia Travel Industry website (www.vatc.org). This section researches and implements Internet communication technologies, develops web-based business initiatives and grows data sharing partnerships with state, regional and local entities. It complements the Authority's marketing initiatives by using multi-media and dynamic websites, relational database management, and a statewide inventory of attractions, accommodations, activities and events available to vacation and business travelers.

    Customer services is primarily responsible for fulfilling information requests resulting from the Authority’s marketing, advertising and promotional efforts. It manages contracted services for responses to toll-free telephone inquiries and a mail fulfillment house to distribute travel guides and other information requested by potential travelers to the Commonwealth. Other services offered by this section are: certification of local and regional visitor centers; and customer service training for front-line staff. Customer services also manages the Virginia Welcome Centers, which provide travel information and counseling and reservation services for travelers. At the centers, the Authority provides a fee-based advertising service to the travel industry. Industry partners can distribute their information and advertise their destinations through a brochure display system and advertising wall panels.

    The Virginia Film Office is committed to increasing film and video production in the Commonwealth, and its activities are aimed at attracting out-of-state business while at the same time expanding the existing in-state industry. Film, television and video production services promote the Commonwealth as a location for film and video production. The Film Office provides production services to producers and assists filmmakers producing their projects in the state. The Film Office also recruits production work from outside Virginia and supports indigenous Virginia companies.

    Partnership Alliance Marketing is a relatively new function of the Authority which began in 2006. Its primary purpose is to provide developmental guidance, technical assistance and marketing consulting services to rural and urban communities and organizations to enhance and/or expand tourism product in Virginia. It also administers a marketing matching grants program, when funded, to assist communities and marketing partnerships to market their tourism product.
  • Factors Impacting Agency Products and/or Services:
    The greatest obstacle to the success of marketing Virginia's tourism industry lies in its funding sources. Over the years, the Authority has had substantial reductions in its funding for marketing. In 2000, the Authority's bugdet was $21 million and is now $16 million for 2010. Some competing states which have the same primary target markets as Virginia have received funding increases to market their respective states. Should this trend continue, Virginia could see a reduction in tourism as a result of limited exposure in key market areas. The economic downturn has created a change in how travelers plan their vacations. The trips tend to be shorter in terms of distance and length. The industry has been negatively impacted by reduced travel.
  • Anticipated Changes in Products or Services:
    Beginning in 2006, the Authority received funding for a program of tourism development assistance through the Virginia Works program with emphasis on economically depressed regions of the state. Five specific program areas were identified within the program to encourage tourism development and growth.

    1. Tourism development technical assistance.
    2. Rails-to-trails development and promotion.
    3. Artisan trail/network.
    4. Artisan centers and Virginia trails.
    5. Itinerary-based trails such as the Crooked Road Music Trail.

    This program has been very successful in developing and improving tourism product, assisting communities in marketing and planning, and training of front-line staff to prepare them for careers in travel and tourism. The program has been well received by the communities and tourism entities throughout the Commonwealth. It has been expanded to provide much needed assistance in steering industry partners in becoming successful and growing the industry in their areas and in Virginia. This progress has been accomplished through the following primary objectives:
    1. Strategic planning assistance and development
    2. Product development and enhancement
    3. Staff development and education
    4. Effective use of research and target marketing
    5. Funding assistance through marketing matching grants

    This program provides much needed technical assistance to communities and entrepreneurs in economic development, planning and capital access vital to the successful growth of the industry.
Finance
  • Financial Overview:
    The Virginia Tourism Authority is currently operating with a General Fund budget of $16 million. These funds provide resources to support the base marketing, advertising and promotions programs; film office operations; partnership marketing; customer services; and minimal administrative support functions.

    While the budget is currently at levels comparable to 1998 funding levels, the Authority has challenged itself with opportunities to expand upon its core mission and marketing plan to include outdoor and rural product development and promoting product enhancements and development. Therefore, VTA has had to aggressively leverage funding and form new partnerships with industry and government entities to extend the reach of a limited budget.

    The Authority also receives funds ($1.2 million annually) from the Virginia Department of Transportation to support the operations of ten state Welcome Centers that provide travel information and assistance to visitors. These funds are not reflected in the general fund appropriation. The funds, however, are not sufficient to fully fund the Welcome Centers' operations, which is in excess of $2.3 million annually. The operations are supplemented by advertising sales for brochure display space and advertising panels at the Centers that total approximately $380,000 annually. The funding from VDOT has not changed significantly in more than 10 years and has challenged the Authority to meet the operational needs to meet expectations of the visitors.
  • Financial Breakdown:
    FY 2011    FY 2012
      General Fund     Nongeneral Fund        General Fund     Nongeneral Fund  
    Base Budget $16,151,121  $0     $16,151,121  $0 
    Change To Base    $0  $0     $0  $0 
               
    Agency Total $16,151,121  $0     $16,151,121  $0 
    This financial summary is computed from information entered in the service area plans.
Human Resources
  • Overview
    The Virginia Tourism Authority is a public body corporate of the Commonwealth and is exempt from the Virginia Personnel Act. As such, the employment levels do not fall within the position authorizations of the Appropriations Act. The information provided below is for information purposes to reflect the levels of employment. The employees of the Authority do participate in the Virginia Retirement System and benefits programs offered by the Commonwealth.

    Annually, the Authority submits an operations plan to the Department of Planning and Budget, the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee containing its employment levels. As of July 1, 2009, the Authority employs 71 full-time staff members and 37 part-time wage positions. The authority also uses the services of interns to supplement its manpower needs. The intern program provides approximately 2,160 hours of service annually.
  • Human Resource Levels
    Effective Date 9/1/2009    
    Total Authorized Position level 0    
    Vacant Positions 0    
    Current Employment Level 0.0    
    Non-Classified (Filled) 0    
    Full-Time Classified (Filled) 0    breakout of Current Employment Level
    Part-Time Classified (Filled) 0    
    Faculty (Filled) 0    
    Wage 0    
    Contract Employees 0    
    Total Human Resource Level 0.0   = Current Employment Level + Wage and Contract Employees
  • Factors Impacting HR
    The Authority has been able to retain employees long-term, which results in a relatively stable and competent workforce. Over the recent few years, Authority payroll costs have been rising, which reflects the need to be competitive with the private sector to attract the best candidates and to retain well qualified individuals. A competitive compensation package is a key element to attract and retain the best possible employees for positions within Virginia Tourism. As a result, the Authority has attracted quality professional staff. VTA has been recongnized as one of the best tourism offices in the United States and has won awards for its efforts.

    Having a large number of long-tenured employees will impact the future of the Authority. The average length of service of full-time employees employed by the Authority is about twelve years. There are 22 employees who have 15 or more years of service with the Commonwealth; 13 of whom have more than 20 years.

    To assure that the staff remains current and competitive with the private world, a program of continuing professional development is encouraged, and funds are provided to support these efforts. It is essential that such programs are current and meaningful to assure the competency of the staff.

    The Authority relies heavily on part-time staff to man the state Welcome Centers. The funds for this effort come largely from the Virginia Department of Transportation and the sale of brochure display space and advertising panels. The funding has not kept pace with the cost of operations which puts financial pressure on the Authority to fully man these Centers for the scheduled hours of operation. In the past year, one center was closed and another is scheduled to close in September 2009 due to budget reductions.
  • Anticipated HR Changes
    As employees retire, it will be a challenge for the Authority to replace the expertise lost without being competitive in the compensation arena. This will have a significant impact on the limited and dwindling resources.

    There are a number of industry demands on the Commonwealth to grow the tourism product with emphasis on Southside and Southwest Virginia. Initiatives, such as VTA's Partnership Alliance Marketing, are underway to support programs in these areas and to provide management and program development assistance. The success of this program in developing and marketing tourism product requires additional staff to be able to handle the demand for services.
Information Technology
  • Current Operational IT Investments:
    The Authority uses the services of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) to provide IT functions. Because the Authority and the Partnership are body politics of the Commonwealth, they are precluded from involvement with the Commonwealth's IT programs through VITA. Through a Memorandum of Understanding, the VEDP manages the IT programs for both entities. The Authority provides the financial resouces necessary to maintain the equipment and its specialized software.

    The Authority, however, does use the sevices of VITA to provide telecommunications at the Welcome Centers, host the consumer and industry web sites, and joint agreements to provide web features such as Mapquest, Weather Channel, etc.
  • Factors Impacting the Current IT:
    The Authority relies heavily on technology to market and promote the Commonwealth as a travel destination. The internet has become the primary tool to reach people and deliver the tourism message nationally and internationally. With the technology of this product changing rapidly, the Authority needs to assure that it stays on the cutting edge to meet the needs of a technology savvy user. This requires continually upgrading the application software and hardware to meet the internet and user requirements.
  • Proposed IT Solutions:
    The Authority has invested heavily in web design and functionality. It has proven to be the primary means by which people plan their vacations. The web is expected, as verified by recent research, to continue to be a very important and viable avenue to reach the general public. Investment in this asset will continue to grow.

    The Authority website's data and mangement tools have been in use for more than ten years with minor changes and enhancements. It is being challenged to keep pace with todays user needs and expectations. VTA will need to make significant investments to rewrite the programs and database that work the web sites to be able to provide user friendly and intuitive interfaces now becoming the norm in the industry. Currently, sufficient funds are not available to make the necessary investment in this effort.
  • Current IT Services:

    Estimated Ongoing Operations and Maintenance Costs for Existing IT Investments

    Cost - Year 1 Cost - Year 2
    General Fund Non-general Fund General Fund Non-general Fund
    Projected Service Fees $12,700 $0 $12,890 $0
    Changes (+/-) to VITA
    Infrastructure
    $0 $0 $0 $0
    Estimated VITA Infrastructure $12,700 $0 $12,890 $0
    Specialized Infrastructure $0 $0 $0 $0
    Agency IT Staff $0 $0 $0 $0
    Non-agency IT Staff $0 $0 $0 $0
    Other Application Costs $150,490 $0 $150,490 $0
    Agency IT Current Services $163,190 $0 $163,380 $0
    Comments:
    [Nothing entered]
  • Proposed IT Investments

    Estimated Costs for Projects and New IT Investments

    Cost - Year 1 Cost - Year 2
    General Fund Non-general Fund General Fund Non-general Fund
    Major IT Projects $0 $0 $0 $0
    Non-major IT Projects $0 $0 $0 $0
    Agency-level IT Projects $85,000 $0 $85,000 $0
    Major Stand Alone IT Procurements $0 $0 $0 $0
    Non-major Stand Alone IT Procurements $60,000 $0 $60,000 $0
    Total Proposed IT Investments $145,000 $0 $145,000 $0
  • Projected Total IT Budget
    Cost - Year 1 Cost - Year 2
    General Fund Non-general Fund General Fund Non-general Fund
    Current IT Services $163,190 $0 $163,380 $0
    Proposed IT Investments $145,000 $0 $145,000 $0
    Total $308,190 $0 $308,380 $0
Appendix A - Agency's information technology investment detail maintained in VITA's ProSight system.
Capital
  • Current State of Capital Investments:
    [Nothing entered]
  • Factors Impacting Capital Investments:
    [Nothing entered]
  • Capital Investments Alignment:
    [Nothing entered]
Agency Goals

Goal 1

Strengthen awareness of the Virginia brand.

Goal Summary and Alignment

Increase and strengthen the awareness of Virginia as a travel destination. Make the visitor or potential visitor aware of the many opportunities that the Commonwealth offers in the way of destinations, family fun, history, and business travel.

Goal Alignment to Statewide Goals
  • Be a national leader in the preservation and enhancement of our economy.
  • Protect, conserve and wisely develop our natural, historical and cultural resources.
Goal 2

Develop and execute collaborative statewide marketing programs.

Goal Summary and Alignment

Strengthen and increase partnerships each year that benefit the tourism industry. Access new funding and leverage advertising, marketing and public relations resources by partnering with tourism organizations, other nonprofit entities, private industry, and government.

Goal Alignment to Statewide Goals
  • Be a national leader in the preservation and enhancement of our economy.
  • Be recognized as the best-managed state in the nation.
Goal 3

We will educate elected officials and key opinion leaders on the economic importance of tourism and encourage investment in the industry.

Goal Summary and Alignment

Foster strong working relationships with elected officials and key opinion leaders to gain support and growth for Virginia’s tourism industry.

Goal Alignment to Statewide Goals
  • Be a national leader in the preservation and enhancement of our economy.
  • Engage and inform citizens to ensure we serve their interests.
  • Protect, conserve and wisely develop our natural, historical and cultural resources.
Goal 4

We will advance the use of technology in tourism marketing.

Goal Summary and Alignment

Use progressive electronic marketing programs to increase Virginia’s tourism.

Goal Alignment to Statewide Goals
  • Be a national leader in the preservation and enhancement of our economy.
  • Be recognized as the best-managed state in the nation.
Goal 5

We will expand hospitality workforce training.

Goal Summary and Alignment

Support the Virginia travel industry to develop and implement programs to train the hospitality workforce to ensure a positive visitor experience and increase visitor length of stay. Support educational institutions’ efforts to develop and expand hospitality and marketing programs.

Goal Alignment to Statewide Goals
  • Be a national leader in the preservation and enhancement of our economy.
  • Be recognized as the best-managed state in the nation.
  • Protect, conserve and wisely develop our natural, historical and cultural resources.
Goal 6

We will improve infrastructure that supports tourism.

Goal Summary and Alignment

Work with federal, state and local entities to improve and expand the state’s visitor information and service facilities and tourism product. Encourage multi-modal enhancements to Virginia’s transportation systems to meet the needs of the traveling public.

Goal Alignment to Statewide Goals
  • Be a national leader in the preservation and enhancement of our economy.
  • Be recognized as the best-managed state in the nation.
  • Protect, conserve and wisely develop our natural, historical and cultural resources.
Goal 7

We will support existing tourism products of all sizes and the development of new tourism product.

Goal Summary and Alignment

Support the enhancement, expansion and development of new and existing tourism products, events and services.

Goal Alignment to Statewide Goals
  • Be a national leader in the preservation and enhancement of our economy.
  • Be recognized as the best-managed state in the nation.
  • Protect, conserve and wisely develop our natural, historical and cultural resources.
Goal 8

We will increase the economic impact of the film and video industry throughout the Commonwealth.

Goal Summary and Alignment

Attract film, video and multi-media production to Virginia. Grow the in-state film, video and multi-media industry.

Goal Alignment to Statewide Goals
  • Be a national leader in the preservation and enhancement of our economy.
Goal 9

We will provide leadership, management and direction for the VTA.

Goal Summary and Alignment

To provide the Virginia Tourism Authority with quality management through consistent planning, effective procurement and reporting processes and high-quality staff. Identify and implement revenue-generating programs to provide necessary resources to supplement the Commonwealth's investment in tourism promotion.

Goal Alignment to Statewide Goals
  • Be recognized as the best-managed state in the nation.
Goal Objectives
  • To ensure that resources are used efficiently and programs are managed effectively and in a manner consistent with applicable state and federal requirements.
    Link to State Strategy
    • nothing linked
Goal 10

Strengthen the culture of preparedness across state agencies, their employees and customers.

Goal Summary and Alignment

This goal ensures compliance with federal and state regulations, policies and procedures for Commonwealth preparedness, as well as guidelines promulgated with the Governor's Cabinet, the Commonwealth Preparedness Working Group, the Department of Planning and Budget and the Council on Virginia's Future. The goal supports achievement of the Commonwealth's statewide goal of protecting the public's safety and security, ensuring a fair and effective system of justice and providing a prepared response to emergencies and disasters of all kinds.

Goal Objectives
  • We will be prepared to act in the interest of the citizens of the Commonwealth and its infrastructure during emergency situations by actively planning and training both as an agency and as individuals.
    Objective Strategies
    • The agency Emergency Coordination Officer will stay in regular communication with the Office of Commonwealth Preparedness, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and other Commonwealth Preparedness Work Group agencies.
    Link to State Strategy
    • nothing linked

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