Visit Loudoun opened its newly renovated visitor center Tuesday, and received an award from the Virginia Tourism Commission to decorate the new digs at the ribbon cutting.
As the COVID-19 pandemic response began, Visit Loudoun closed its visitor center at Market Station in Leesburg and furloughed its travel advisors. Although both the visitor center and the tourism and hospitality industries it represents were closed to visitors, like at many hospitality businesses, the time was not wasted at Visit Loudoun.
“We took advantage of the downtime to really take a look at ways to streamline the visitor center experience, ways to really elevate what we’re doing for our strategic plan, which is to connect both the east and the west, to make sure that we are showing the diversity of Loudoun County. … and I think we’ve really accomplished it here,” said Visit Loudoun President and CEO Beth Erickson.
Working with Capital Museum Services, Visit Loudoun redesigned the center to minimize physical contact when it comes to searching for information, while still providing a warm welcome from the returning travel advisors as the county moves into Phase Three of reopening.
The redesign includes new lighting and display racks for brochures, new technology to showcase videos and images of the county, and a space focused solely on the county seat of Leesburg. Visit Loudoun is also working with the Friends of Leesburg Public Arts to display artwork from a new artist each month.
Virginia Tourism Corporation President & CEO Rita McClenny attended the ceremony to help cut the ribbon and present Visit Loudoun with the Trailblazer Award, which was announced in March. The award recognizes certified visitor centers for a single, targeted promotion aimed at increasing awareness of and visitation to a locality or region.
Visit Loudoun Visitor Center received the award for its role in Leesburg’s First Fridays. Last year, Visit Loudoun launched a program for First Fridays highlighting local agritourism products and artists. Over the course of seven months, the visitor center hosted wineries, local farms and a local chocolatier.
“We know that visitor centers play an important role in our recruitment and hosting visitors, to present them with a welcoming atmosphere, great information, and really guiding them to experience Loudoun County,” McClenny said. “We know there is so much to see in Loudoun County.”
Loudoun County Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) said when the pandemic response began, some of the businesses she was most concerned for were in the tourism, restaurant and hospitality industries.
“Unfortunately, some of our worst fears came true about these industries, but I also believed and I still believe that they will go on to become the industries to come back the fastest, because people miss the experience of being in Loudoun County and Leesburg,” Randall said.
In 2019, Loudoun County was the third largest locality in the state for visitor spending, bringing in $1.84 billion. The Visit Loudoun Visitor Center is on the first floor of Market Station at the intersection of Loudoun and Harrison streets in Leesburg.