McAuliffe says tourism has seen $2.2B in growth since 2014

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe speaks with Capitol Bureau reporter Evanne Armour about the possibility to housing Amazon's second headquarters in the Commonwealth.

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe says the Commonwealth’s tourism industry has grown by $2.2 billion since he took office.

Tourism has been a big part of McAuliffe’s efforts to build a “new Virginia economy” since he was elected in 2013.

“Virginia’s tourism industry is a critical component of the new Virginia economy, providing jobs for our citizens and funneling millions of dollars back into our communities,” McAuliffe said in a statement Thursday.

Related: Tourism revenue increases in Norfolk, Va. Beach, JCC

McAuliffe’s office said the governor has awarded more than $3.3 million in tourism grants across the Commonwealth. The McAuliffe has also sought to boost Virginia’s wine and craft beer industries over the past four years.

Across the Commonwealth, there are now 250 craft breweries, more than 280 wineries and over 20 cideries.

Related: Beer industry booming in the Commonwealth

The state recently handed out a grant to help a Virginia Beach cidery open the biggest cider production facility in the region. State grants have also been awarded to new breweries looking to come online in Hampton Roads.

McAuliffe said Thursday that travelers spent nearly $65 million per day in Virginia. The industry as a whole saw an annual growth rate of 3.3 percent.

This growth had impacts in areas including employment and even entertainment — with films and TV shows being filmed in the Commonwealth.

According to McAuliffe’s office, people working in tourism earned $5.6 billion in payroll income — a 5.4 percent increase over 2015. There was a total of $23.7 billion in revenue from tourism along in 2016.