Lincoln movie could be a tourism boom for Petersburg

PETERSBURG, Va. (AP) - Petersburg area tourism officials are hoping to capitalize on director Steven Spielberg's upcoming movie about Abraham Lincoln.

Petersburg Area Regional Tourism is planning a "Walk in Lincoln's Footsteps" initiative to coincide with the release of "Lincoln" in November.

The movie was filmed in Petersburg and the Richmond area. The tourism initiative includes signs that will be placed at various spots Lincoln visited in the region during the final days of the Civil War.

There also will be a brochure for a self-guided tour and a DVD. An application for mobile devices also might be developed. "We want people to use it in whatever format they want," Martha Burton, director of the tourism group, told The Progress-Index .

The story of Elizabeth Keckley also will part of the tourism group's initiative. Born in Dinwiddie County, Keckley was a seamstress and close confidante of first lady Mary Todd Lincoln. Burton said Lincoln spent a significant amount of his final weeks in the region.

"The Lincoln movie is an opportunity that is beyond anything we would be able to do," Burton said. "That movie will generate an interest in our area."

The tourism initiative will be promoted on regional TV channels and the Internet, and in the state's visitors guide.

Petersburg Area Regional Tourism received a 2-to-1 $25,000 matching grant from the Virginia Tourism Corp. for the initiative. The Cameron Foundation awarded a $50,000 grant for the project and other initiatives.

The tourism group expects to have a total $125,000 for the project. "We've been able to cobble together a good sum of money to develop the tour and the tools, and then market it," Burton said.

The Virginia Film Office has said the movie's makers spent more than $32 million in the state. When the ripple effect of that spending is factored in, the economic impact doubles to $64 million.