From 2011 to 2012, it looks like even more visitors came to Richmond, based on increased occupancy rates and hotel room rates.
That's attributable, in part, to more sporting events being held here, the VMFA's Chihuly exhibit, more conventions and the filming of Spielberg's Lincoln, Jack Berry of the Richmond Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau told the Richmond Times-Dispatch in late January.
According to Smith Travel Research, the Richmond-Petersburg region's hotel occupancy in 2012 increased 4.2 percent compared with 2011, and room-rate revenue was up 6.6 percent over 2011. Both good signs. (In 2010, 5.75 million visited the region, and in 2011, 6 million visited, according to the Virginia Tourism Corporation. The 2012 numbers aren't out yet.)
This month, staff writer Harry Kollatz Jr. explored some questions concerning tourism in Richmond. And he worked with the pros at two visitor centers, listening to what guests had to say. He found out some very exciting things: New visitors centers are planned for the Boulevard and for inside Main Street Station's train shed; new attraction signage is out for bid; and some 140 miles of bike-friendly improvements are planned. Plus we've found out that the design for the new 6.2-mile Liberty Trail has been approved by the city. (To get updates or to volunteer to help, visit RVAlibertytrail.com .)
Some frustrating news: There still isn't an easy way for tourists to get around when they visit, such as a free or low-fare hop-on-hop-off bus, van or trolley circulating widely at peak times.
On April 26, tourism officials will gather for National Travel and Tourism Week, and a new name for the Richmond Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau will be revealed. Simplification is another good move.
If we could figure out the tourism circulator, it would be a sign of victory for the visitor and the attractions.
Richmond magazine is pleased to sponsor the Second Annual Reelabilities Film Festival, April 4
to 8. Visit richmond.reelabilities.org for a list of the movies, speakers and theaters.
We also are pleased to be a sponsor of the inaugural Coaches' Cook-Off on April 25 between VCU's Shaka Smart and UR's Chris Mooney that will raise funds for Positive Vibe Café, which is celebrating 10 years of training those with disabilities to work in the restaurant industry. To learn more, visit postive vibecafe.com.
Best and Worst Ballot Online
Yes, it's back, and the prizes you can enter to win are good, including a one-year family membership to the Weinstein JCC fitness center. Go online and let us know your favorites and not-so favorites between March 28 and May 8 at richmondmaga zine.com/vote .