RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia is celebrating a new record high for tourism revenue across the state, Gov. Bob McDonnell announced Wednesday.
Tourism revenue rose to $21.2 billion in 2012, a 4 percent increase over the previous year, McDonnell said at a news conference at Brown's Island in Richmond.
The industry also supported 210,000 jobs and provided more than $1.36 billion in state and local taxes in 2012. And every locality in Virginia reported tourism revenue increases last year, officials said.
"Tourism is an instant revenue generator," McDonnell said. "This is a major driver because we've got so many God-given resources here in Virginia that people want to be able to see."
McDonnell said that Virginia also ranked eighth in the country for domestic travel spending.
Officials touted Virginia's varied landscapes and historic sites, as well as the film and wine industries as reasons for growth over the past few years.
"Tourists from around the country and the world are being drawn to Virginia to walk in the footsteps of Lincoln, participate and learn from our ongoing Civil War Sesquicentennial events, visit our increasingly globally recognized vineyards and enjoy all that this great state has to offer from Atlantic Ocean beaches to Appalachian mountains," McDonnell said in a statement.
Virginia was named one of the top 10 wine travel destinations in the world by Wine Enthusiast magazine in 2012, riding record-high sales of more than 511,000 cases in the fiscal year that ended June 30.
Officials say the craft beer industry also is on the rise, boasting more than 60 breweries across Virginia.
McDonnell also said funding for tourism initiatives has increased by more than $5 million annually over the past three years and has yielded a 5-to-1 return on investment.