Benefits for Tourism

Transit Enhances Virginia Tourism
Tourism is big business in Virginia, generating $1.6 million an an average day and accounting for 5.1% of the Gross State Product. Compared to other industries in Virginia, tourism ranks 3rd for employment and 3rd in retail sales.

With transit, tourists can easily see points of interest, relax and enjoy their visits, and avoid traffic and parking hassles. Easy access to tourist attractions encourages return trips, which boost Virginia’s economy. Transit is essential to maintaining Virginia’s thriving tourist industry.

Here are some examples from communities across Virginia which demonstrate how transit enhances tourism in the Commonwealth.

There is nothing worse than being stuck in traffic on a hot day, especially when you’ve been waiting all week to throw on your bathing suit and dive into the ocean. In Virginia Beach, the Beach Trolley makes life more pleasant for the tourists while relieving the congestion problem at the beach in the summer. In the City of Norfolk, the only way civilians can see the Naval Station up close is by the daily tours provided in partnership by Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) and Naval Station Norfolk. This is the most popular of all local tours HRT provides and ridership has increased annually.


Shakespeare’s in love — with Staunton, VA. Shenandoah Shakespeare has numerous projects in the works in Staunton, including building replicas of the indoor playhouse, Blackfriars, and the famous Globe Theater. The playhouse opened in September 2001 and the Globe Theater in 2007, with tourism increasing accordingly. Staunton embarked on a one year pilot program to test the use of the downtown trolleys. The service now runs three routes, and over 300,000 people have ridden the trolley! This is the first mass transit system in Staunton since the 1980s and its genesis is directly linked to tourism.

Williamsburg Area Transport (WAT) is a great way to “experience the hospitality” while on vacation, shopping or commuting to work or school.The system serves the Williamsburg Transportation Center, Colonial Williamsburg, Busch Gardens, The Music Theatre of Williamsburg, the Williamsburg Pottery Factory, Prime Outlets of Williamsburg, the College of William and Mary and other points of interest in between.

Metrorail in the Northern Virginia/Washington, D.C. area is a saving grace for the millions of tourist who visit every year. Without the Metro, 260,000 more cars per day would be on the road. It would take an estimated 1,400 additional lane-miles of roadway to accommodate this extra traffic. During special events, such as the Fourth of July and the Cherry Blossom Festival, which both attract over 500,000 visitors, the Metro works closely with its riders and the media to encourage public transit use and explain the best routes to take. Without this system in place, it would be impossible for our nation’s capitol to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of visitors that these special events attract. There simply would not be enough parking or roadways.

Trolleys add a special feeling of nostalgia and history to a simple ride along the beach. In Colonial Beach, also known as “the Playground of the Potomac,” historic-styled street trolleys transport vacationers and locals to twenty featured stops along the peninsula. The trolleys are wheelchair accessible, and especially attractive to tourists with ample room for shopping bags and beach supplies.