(RICHMOND) – Virginia State Parks continued the year-long trend of record attendance with an Independence Day weekend attendance of 266,739, a 22 percent increase over last year’s previous record-high of 218,889.
The record-high visitation follows another record setting holiday weekend when visitation increased 15.9 percent on Memorial Day weekend.
The 35 award-winning Virginia State Parks are managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.
DCR Director David Johnson attributes the significant increase to a number of factors. “The weather across Virginia was simply incredible all weekend long,” he said. “The warm dry weather made state parks, and state park swimming facilities, immensely popular. Over the past decade, we’ve seen a steady rise in attendance as we’ve responded to visitors’ requests for more cabins, campsites, lodges and staff-led programs and activities. Simply put, more people are coming to Virginia State Parks because our parks are better than they have ever been.”
Tracking the first six months of 2010 compared to the same time last year, overall state park attendance is up 8 percent.
“Tourism is an instant revenue generator for Virginia’s economy and Virginia State Parks are one of our best assets to attract visitors,” said Alisa Bailey, president and CEO of the Virginia Tourism Corporation.“Families from around the country, and especially from the East Coast, travel to Virginia to enjoy the pristine beauty of our state parks.”
The estimated economic impact of Virginia State Parks was $175 million in 2009.
The Independence Day weekend saw a 70 percent increase in swimming over last year. Other significant gains over 2009 included a 19 percent increase in camping deposits, a 6 percent increase in cabin rentals, and a 36 percent increase in food and beverage sales.
Overall sales for the weekend increased 27 percent over last year.
“We are excited to see Virginia State Parks continue their record setting year with another outstanding holiday weekend,” said DCR’s State Parks Director Joe Elton. “Visitors have come to our parks for nearly 75 years to find therapy for the mind, body and spirit as they enjoy our unspoiled natural resources. More than 266,000 people visited our parks over the holiday weekend, and they returned home with cherished family memories that will last a lifetime.”
Virginia State Parks offer dozens of festivals and concerts and thousands of seasonal nature and history programs across the state.
For more information about state park activities and amenities, or to make reservations in a campsite, cabin or family lodge, call the Virginia State Parks Reservation Center at (800) 933-PARK or visit www.virginiastateparks.gov.