Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge will have tourism office in Fincastle

Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge (Visit VBR) is now serving as the official destination marketing organization for Botetourt County.

The announcement by Botetourt County and Visit VBR officials Monday follows a March reorganization of county departments that eliminated the county’s tourism position.

As a follow-up, starting this month, Visit VBR is establishing an office in the county’s Department of Economic Development at 5 West Back Street, the Clark Building, in Fincastle.

The announcement says the Visit VBR office will strengthen the partnership between Botetourt and what was the Roanoke Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau, which changed its name a year ago.

This comes after a decision by the Botetourt County Board of Supervisors in 2015 to increase the transient occupancy tax (hotel/motel tax) and to designate those funds to Visit VBR for external marketing of the county’s tourism assets.

Botetourt budgeted $140,705 for Visit VBR in the current fiscal year and has proposed

$160,826 for the next fiscal year that starts July 1. In the fiscal year before the hotel/motel tax was increased, the county allocated just over $67,000 for the regional tourism effort— essentially $2 per county resident.

Under the new arrangement, Visit VBR staff, several of whom call Botetourt County home, will be available at the Fincastle office.

“Our partnership with Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge has brought value to Botetourt County for years,” said County Administrator Gary Larrowe. “We realize that tourism is big business for Botetourt County and in order to continue sustaining and growing these efforts for our local businesses, we’re allowing Visit VBR to do what they do best.

“At the same time, our county economic development team, with director Ken McFadyen, is engaged in all facets of development, supporting tourism and also promoting Greenfield, existing manufacturers and businesses and engaging with the small business and workforce development communities,” Larrowe continued.

Representing Botetourt County isn’t new for the regional destination marketing organization, the announcement said. In fact, the partnership between the county and Visit VBR brought in national editorial coverage for the county, including the recent Travel+Leisure article that gave serious bragging rights to the county’s Upper James River Water Trail.

“Botetourt County is a beautiful and historic part of Virginia’s Blue Ridge,” stated Landon Howard, president of Visit VBR. “We will continue to focus on promoting their key assets to sports planners, business travelers and those looking for a mountain vacation destination as their official tourism partner.”

An industry meeting, open to the public, will be held to inform partners of the tourism initiative and to collect feedback. Details on that meeting will be announced soon.

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