Tourism is improving in Prince William County, Manassas and Manassas Park. Or, as the Prince William and Manassas Convention and Visitors Bureau said, "the future is so bright we gotta wear shades."
Last year, visitors to Prince William County generated nearly $444 million in revenue. In the City of Manassas, visitors generated $54 million. In nearby Manassas Park, visitors accounted for a $1.2 million in revenue.
As the Prince William and Manassas CVB strategic planning consultant Joe Lathrop put it, “tourism is back.”
“Tourism supported 5,600 jobs in Prince William last year and 524 between Manassas and Manassas Park,” read a tourism economic impact leaflet from the Prince William and Manassas CVB at a luncheon Thursday. “Travel-related state and local tax receipts also increased in Prince William by 3.7 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively.”
During National Tourism and Travel Week, the local CVB unveiled the five-year plan for strategic plan objectives and operational imperatives.
“In the next 30 days staff will be creating segmented marketing plans,” said executive director of the CVB Anne Marie Maher. Those documents will be available on the group’s website.
“Our rich Civil War and military history coupled with outdoor recreation, arts and entertainment, main streets and other attractions make us a diverse destination,” Maher said. “And, with a new strategic plan in place, we will be able to further capitalize on our assets and ensure tourism revenue continues to flow into the community, ultimately creating jobs, keeping businesses alive, preserving historic buildings and lowering local taxes.”
Tourism to the area piqued national interest last year, during the 150th anniversary of the first battle of Manassas, when a reenactment descended upon the area, bringing in tourists from all over.
It was widely noted as one of the largest tourism events in Prince William County. City of Manassas restaurants increased revenue by $811,500 in July 2011 issued by the city.
The Prince William and Manassas CVB’s mission is to market, promote and develop the community as a tourism and group destination, in turn stimulating economic growth for the region.
It plans, over the next five years, to build brand awareness of the Prince William County and Manassas areas, generate visitation from groups to the area, conduct research for marketing strategies and build community tourism support among other objectives.
Before the presentation of the five-year plan, elected officials spoke on the impact of tourism on the community.
“I cannot think of a place I’d rather live, work and serve, than Prince William County,” said Delegate Rich Anderson (R-50) during the luncheon held at the Hylton Memorial Chapel in Woodbridge. “This industry is an instant revenue-creator.”
Anderson also said that small, family-owned businesses are the key to Commonwealth and country’s economic recovery.
Coles District Supervisor Marty Nohe said that he hosted a group from Stuttgart, Germany with the purpose of meeting to talk about economic development, transportation and the environment but that the group was more interested in tourist attractions in Prince William County.
They wanted to come back and learn how to attract visitors based on history, said Nohe.
“Good government costs money,” said Mark Wolfe, councilman from the City of Manassas. “We can get that from tourism or from the residents.”