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A very good year: Tourists to Virginia spent $71 million a day

It was in 1969, 50 years ago, that the Virginia is for Lovers tourism slogan was first used. It's the longest continuously running tourism slogan in the nation, older than even the I 'Heart' NY campaign. (Courtesy Virginia Tourism Corporation)

Tourism is the fifth-largest employer in Virginia, and 2018 was a good year for the industry.

Virginia tourism generated $26 billion in visitor spending last year, up 4.4% from 2017, or the equivalent of about $71 million in domestic tourist spending a day, according to the Virginia Tourism Corporation.

Tourism also supported 234,000 jobs in Virginia last year, generating $6.1 billion in payroll income.

This year is a particularly significant year for Virginia tourism. It was in 1969, 50 years ago, that the Virginia is for Lovers tourism slogan was first used. It’s the longest continuously running tourism slogan in the nation, older than even the I “Heart” NY campaign.

The Virginia is for Lovers campaign was developed by Richmond-based advertising firm Martin & Wolz, now the Martin Agency.

In 1969, tourism spending in Virginia was $1.3 billion, or $8.6 billion when adjusted for inflation.

To mark the 50th anniversary, hundreds of destinations across the state are participating in the 50 Years of LOVE campaign.

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