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Press Releases regarding Virginia’s Retreat:

September 24, 2015

Contact: Magi Van Eps, Chair

Phone:   434-392-1482

Email:  mvaneps@co.prince-edward.va.us

Website:  varetreat.com

 

Virginia’s Retreat Tourism Marketing Consortium at FanFest held during the UCI Road World Championship Race held in Richmond Virginia September 20-27, 2015

Welcome to Virginia’s Retreat

The Virginia’s Retreat region of Central and Southern Virginia offers travelers meaningful history attractions and abundant outdoor recreation. Boasting the nation’s first Civil War History Trail, the Lee’s Retreat driving tour and Wilson-Kautz Raid Civil War driving tours,  developed in 1993, were the impetus for Civil War Trails, which now spans six states.  In 2004 the organization developed the stirring Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail®, telling the stories of how African-Americans, Native Americans and women had to fight for the right to an equal education in Southside Virginia.  Virginia’s Retreat is comprised of 12 localities in cooperation to share South Central Virginia’s unique hospitality with visitors.

In 1993 the counties of Amelia, Appomattox, Buckingham, Cumberland, Dinwiddie, Nottoway, Prince Edward and the City of Petersburg came together to better promote the region’s tourism assets. Laying out a possible historical driving tour through seven counties and the towns of Farmville and Appomattox, along with the city of Petersburg, which would mark the route of “Lee’s Retreat.”  Representatives from each county joined forces with the Virginia Division of Tourism, the Virginia Division of State Parks and the National Park Service to design a regional approach. Out of this collaboration came Virginia’s Retreat and the development of the Lee’s Retreat trail. Since 2000, Brunswick, Charlotte, Lunenburg and Mecklenburg counties have joined this regional approach.  In 2004, The Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail® was developed by all of the partners of Virginia’s Retreat.

Lee’s Retreat

The idea was certainly not a new one. As far back as the late 1920’s, the Virginia State Commission on Conservation and Development began a program of placing Historical highway markers at points of significance in the Commonwealth.  One subject matter addressed was “Lee’s Retreat,” more historically known as The Appomattox Campaign.   It was researched by Wilmer R. Turner of Blackstone and his “work was carefully studied by the Historical Division of the State Library and authenticated prior to submission of the idea to the Appropriations Committee” of the General Assembly.  Two thousand dollars was allocated for small black and white signs which carried a crossed saber and rifle logo encircled with: “Route of Lee’s Retreat.”

The Lee’s Retreat Civil War Driving Tour is the first driving tour of its kind.  Now one of the five Virginia Civil War Trails, this self-guided tour lets you experience firsthand, the final days of the battles between General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and General Ulysses S. Grant’s Federal troops, which ultimately concluded with General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House.  The trail is comprised of 27 stops with detailed visual representation at each stop.  The Wilson-Kautz Raid Civil War Driving Tour examines an important, but little known 1864 campaign throughout South Central Virginia.  In late Spring 1864, Ulysses S. Grant’s Overland Campaign had ground to a bloody halt outside of Petersburg and Richmond, defended by General Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia.  In June, to deny Lee the use of the South Side Railroad and other rails for supplying his troops, Grant sent the cavalry divisions of General James H. Wilson and General August V. Kautz south of Petersburg to destroy track, buildings, supplies and rolling stock.  This 32-stop self-guided driving tour provides detailed interpretation at sites ravaged by Generals Wilson and Kautz, as well as sites where they were forced to confront their enemy.

These tours allow you to enjoy the trails at your own pace, letting you linger at some stops and pass others by, if time is short.  Once you begin, follow the Lee’s Retreat trail blazing signs from one stop to the next.

Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail®

Among the many ways Virginia has led the nation, its education heritage is worthy of deeper understanding. The free public education system our country now enjoys has its roots here in this region, where the right to equal education for all was the subject of challenge, debate and courageous acts. The sleepy back roads of these rural counties were an unexpected place for inspired activism – and this trail tells the poignant and often explosive story.

Even after emancipation, African Americans, like Native Americans and women, were denied education equal to white males. Young women were offered no public education beyond the 7th grade, and were denied the foundation allowing them to become teachers or nurses. African American children were denied even the most basic facilities and materials, and came by education only through the efforts of individuals committed to making a difference, sometimes holding class under a tree. Through small, steady steps over decades, the evolution of opportunity came slowly and sometimes at great cost.

The story of efforts to gain educational opportunities reaches back into the 19th century and follows the events of the 20th century Civil Rights movement. Through interpretive signage at over 50 sites along the trail, you will feel the echo of what happened here as you relate their experience to your own.

Recreational Opportunities

For outdoor enthusiasts, the region boasts eight Virginia State Parks, two National Parks, six Wildlife Management Areas, two state forests, and is home to twenty five lakes, rivers or waterways including Kerr Lake and portions of Lake Gaston.  We showcase 2 skydiving schools, 3 professional racing tracks including NASCAR, Formula One, Motorcycle, and drag racing.   As though that wasn’t enough, the region claims six wineries and twelve golf courses.  Additionally, Virginia’s Retreat has the largest aerial obstacle course and zip line in the state, and dozens of riding or hiking and biking trails, including a portion of U.S. Bicycle Route 1 (USBR1) which runs North-South through the Virginia’s Retreat region in the counties of Amelia, Nottoway, Lunenburg and Mecklenburg.

Virginia’s Retreat hosts a multitude of museums, art studios, theatre, music venues, and outdoor adventures.  The downtowns offer unique shopping and dining.  We welcome you to find all of these things in Virginia’s Retreat.  Let’s Go Find An Adventure!

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June 13, 2013:

Contact:               Beverley P. Hawthorne

Chairman of the Board – Virginia’s Retreat

434-696-2546

 Virginia’s Retreat Tourism Consortium Embarks on a Strategic Tourism Development Plan Supported by Marketing Research

VIRGINIA’S RETREAT, South Central Virginia (June 13, 2013) – Coming off the success of the regional tourism summit held on February 26, 2013, and gearing up for the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, Virginia’s Retreat is now in the process of completing a series of marketing research studies designed to understand the dynamics of past, present and future visitors to the region.  “Our goal is to learn as much as possible about the region’s visitors in order to develop the most comprehensive Tourism Strategic Development Plan Virginia’s Retreat has ever had to work with,” commented John Martin, president and CEO of the Southeastern Institute of Research (SIR), the marketing research firm responsible for executing the studies and developing the plan.  “Virginia’s Retreat has really made a commitment to tourism development and we commend them on taking this comprehensive approach.”

Three unique studies have been designed to understand the motivations, perceptions, and appeal of Virginia’s Retreat as a travel destination. The first study in the series focuses on estimating a ‘conversion rate’ of inquirers for Virginia’s Retreat tourist information. “Virginia’s Retreat distributes thousands of travel guides every year. Through this study we will understand how well this traditional tourism marketing approach works,” said Beverly Hawthorne, Chairman of the Virginia’s Retreat Board of Directors.

The second study is designed to intercept current visitors at major attractions within the region. Several key locations identified for intercepting visitors include the Appomattox Court House NHP, Petersburg NBP, the State parks, Robert Russa Moton Museum, Red Hill and at Visitor Information Centers located throughout the region. This study will focus on understanding what attractions guests are visiting while in the area and to what extent those attractions are drawing them to the area. In addition, this study will assess the spending impact of current visitors while visiting the Virginia’s Retreat region. “We are looking forward to better understanding the customer experience in the Virginia’s Retreat region,” said Beverly Hawthorne. “Insights from this study will enable us to build on what’s working and what additional products and packaging we should offer.”

The third study in the series focuses on prospective visitors who have never visited the region previously but who may be interested in visiting.  This study looks at the opportunity to attract those who have never been and to identify the overall perceptions and misperceptions surrounding Virginia’s Retreat’s as a destination.

Armed with the intelligence garnered from these three studies, SIR will formulate a comprehensive Tourism Strategic Marketing Plan that will guide Virginia’s Retreat marketing well into the future. This plan is scheduled to be released in Fall 2013.

About Virginia’s Retreat

The Virginia’s Retreat region of South Central Virginia offers travelers meaningful history attractions and abundant outdoor recreation. Boasting the nation’s first Civil War History Trail, the Lee’s Retreat driving tour and the Wilson-Kautz Raid Civil War driving tours. Home to the Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail®, Virginia’s Retreat is comprised of 12 localities in cooperation to promote regional tourism and contribute to economic development within each of the counties. These 12 localities include Amelia, Appomattox, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, City of Petersburg, Dinwiddie, Halifax, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway and Prince Edward.

To learn more about Virginia’s Retreat, please visit www.varetreat.com for a full listing on activities and vacation destinations across the Virginia’s Retreat region. For a free travel brochure or to learn more, please call Virginia’s Retreat at 1-800-673-8732.

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March 5, 2013:

Contact:               Beverley P. Hawthorne

Chairman of the Board – Virginia’s Retreat

434-696-2546

Virginia’s Retreat Hosts Regional Tourism Summit

VIRGINIA’S RETREAT, South Central Virginia (March 5, 2013) – On February 26, 2013, Virginia’s Retreat hosted a regional tourism summit at Settle Hall on the campus of Hampden-Sydney College. Invited to this special event were the County Administrators from the current twelve member localities and each of the Chairpersons of their respective county Board of Supervisors. Additionally, Virginia’s Retreat was pleased to host Senator Frank Ruff and many of the region’s tourism advocates.

“This tourism summit was a great opportunity to gather many of the region’s tourism leaders to continue discussions on how to attract more visitors to the Virginia’s Retreat region,” said Beverley Hawthorne, current chairman of the consortium. “Recognizing the importance of tourism in our region, our goal is to deploy our tourism assets to attract more visitors to stay longer and spend more money in our localities.”

The tourism summit was led by Southeastern Institute of Research’s (SIR) president and CEO John Martin in coordination with DecideSmart partners Dr. Robert Holsworth and Lane Ramsey. Key discussion during the summit included what counties and towns are doing now to successfully leverage the major trends that are reshaping the U.S. travel and tourism industry, five steps counties should take now to successfully ride these trends and an overview of the steps Virginia’s Retreat is taking to develop a long-term Tourism Strategic Development Plan.

As a part of an on-going 18-month grant process, Virginia’s Retreat has embarked on a journey to develop a comprehensive Tourism Strategic Development Plan with SIR, a Richmond-based marketing research firm. This plan will highlight current tourism offerings, primary research on current and potential visitors to the region and will provide specific actionable recommendations for attracting more visitors. In addition, partner firm DecideSmart will work closely with the Virginia’s Retreat consortium to identify the ideal approach for membership and funding. These components will serve as pillars for Virginia’s Retreat Tourism Strategic Development Plan.

According to the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC), in 2011, tourism generated $20.4 billion in travelers’ spending, supported 207,000 jobs and provided $1.32 billion in state and local taxes for the Commonwealth.  The VTC estimates that tourism generated $320 million in travelers’ spending, supported over 3,500 jobs and provided nearly $23 million in state and local taxes for the Virginia’s Retreat region.

“Embarking on its 20 year anniversary, Virginia’s Retreat has a solid foundation to take travel and tourism to the next level in the South Central Region of Virginia” said Beverley Hawthorne. In the upcoming months, SIR and DecideSmart will collaborate with the Virginia’s Retreat consortium to conduct the research and finalize recommendations for the comprehensive Tourism Strategic Development Plan.

About Virginia’s Retreat

The Virginia’s Retreat region of South Central Virginia offers travelers meaningful history attractions and abundant outdoor recreation. Boasting the nation’s first Civil War History Trail, the Lee’s Retreat driving tour and the Wilson-Kautz Raid Civil War driving tours. Home to the Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail®, Virginia’s Retreat is comprised of 12 localities in cooperation to promote regional tourism and contribute to economic development within each of the counties. These 12 localities include Amelia, Appomattox, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, City of Petersburg, Dinwiddie, Halifax, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway and Prince Edward.

To learn more about Virginia’s Retreat, please visit www.varetreat.com for a full listing on activities and vacation destinations across the Virginia’s Retreat region. For a free travel brochure or to learn more, please call Virginia’s Retreat at 1-800-673-8732.

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December 12, 2012:

Virginia’s Retreat Regional Tourism Program

 Receives Virginia Tourism Grant for Tourism Marketing

Virginia’s Retreat has received $25,000 from the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) Marketing Leverage Grant Fund program. In total, VTC awarded more than $543,000 for 37 tourism marketing projects across the state to help increase visitation and revenue for Virginia’s localities through tourism.

Virginia’s Retreat’s fiscal agent, Angie Kellett of Mecklenburg County, was presented a check from VTC’s CEO Rita McClenny on Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 9:30 a.m. near the Tobacco Heritage Trail Caboose.

The Virginia’s Retreat region of South Central Virginia offers travelers meaningful history attractions and abundant outdoor recreation. Boasting the nation’s first Civil War History Trail, the Lee’s Retreat driving tour and the Wilson-Kautz Raid Civil War driving tours. Home to the Civil Rights in Education Trail®, Virginia’s Retreat is comprised of 12 localities in cooperation to promote regional tourism and contribute to economic development within each of the counties. These 12 localities include Amelia, Appomattox, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, City of Petersburg, Dinwiddie, Halifax, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway and Prince Edward.

Virginia’s Retreat received a $25,000 grant for its regional marketing tourism plan. Virginia’s Retreat will supply $50,000 in matching funds for the project. Partnering with the Southeastern Institute of Research, Inc. located in Richmond, VA, Virginia’s Retreat will conduct three primary research studies in early 2013. These studies include a visitor/interested visitor study, a prospective visitor study and a visitor intercept study. Findings from these studies will help Virginia’s Retreat better understand current and potential visitors in more depth, allowing targeted marketing messages and branding to attract these visitors. Increased visitation to the region benefits economic development, increased tax revenue and direct and indirect jobs for the individual jurisdictions.

“Grants such as these enable our localities to more effectively market themselves to potential visitors,” said Governor McDonnell. “When more visitors come to Virginia the Commonwealth and the localities realize increased tax revenue, businesses prosper and new jobs are created.”

“This grant award reaffirms the importance of Virginia’s Retreat’s regional tourism marketing efforts in contributing to our regional economy. We have many travel and tourism assets already in place. This grant will help us package and share our story, to bring even more visitors to our region” said Beverley Hawthorne, the current chairman of Virginia’s Retreat.

The VTC Marketing Leverage Program is designed to stimulate new tourism marketing through partnerships by leveraging limited marketing dollars, resulting in increased visitor spending.  A minimum of three entities must partner financially to apply and may consist of Virginia towns, cities, counties, convention and visitors bureaus, chambers of commerce, other local or regional destination marketing organizations, private businesses, museums, attractions, cultural events and other not-for-profit entities.

“These grants help enable local tourism partners undertake projects that might otherwise be beyond their fiscal reach, “said Rita McClenny, president and CEO of the Virginia Tourism Corporation. “I see our Marketing Leverage Grants program as something that creates opportunity and breeds the kind of success that can only be achieved by people working together.”

In 2011, tourism generated $20.4 billion in revenue, supported 207,000 jobs and provided $1.32 billion in state and local taxes. Virginia Tourism Corporation estimates that tourism generated $320 million in travelers’ spending, supported over 3,500 jobs and provided nearly $23 million in state and local taxes in the Virginia Retreat region.

According to VTC’s research, dollars invested in tourism are proven to provide a 5:1 return in tax revenue for Virginia, and the grant awards and matching funds provide a stimulus to localities seeking to increase tourism visitation and revenue.

To learn more about Virginia’s Retreat, please visit www.varetreat.com for a full listing on activities and vacation destinations across the Virginia’s Retreat region. For a free travel brochure or to learn more, please call Virginia’s Retreat at 1-800-673-8732.

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September 11, 2012:  Part-time position posted:

Grants Administrator and Clerk/Part-time Position – Virginia’s Retreat, a tourism consortium representing 12 localities in central and southern Virginia, is soliciting submission of a request for qualifications for the part-time position of Grants Administrator and Clerk for the organization. The successful candidate would be required to attend all Virginia Retreat meetings (6 yearly) and up to 10 committee meetings per year.  The role at the meetings would be as recording secretary preparing minutes for the organization. As Grants Administrator of the organization, the person would be required to work with members of the organization to write and submit grants.  With knowledge of each grant, this person would then oversee the selection of vendors, approve payments within the grant requirements, and submit all documentation and reports required of each individual grant.  The successful candidate will be acting as a contractor and will not receive any benefits.  The pay will be based on an average of 10  hours worked per week at a rate that is commensurate with experience.  Please submit qualifications, resume’, and references by October 1, 2012 to Beverley P. Hawthorne, Chairman  at 11413 Courthouse Road  Lunenburg, VA  23952.

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November 28, 2011:  The Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission has awarded a grant of $125,500 to fund a Southern and Central Virginia regional tourism project, proposed by Virginia’s Retreat.

The project, submitted by the 18-year old tourism marketing consortium made up of the Counties of Amelia, Appomattox, Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Dinwiddie, Halifax, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, Powhatan and Prince Edward, and the City of Petersburg, will involve developing an overall strategic plan, a new trail, and part-time clerk’s position (for more information or to apply, visit www.varetreat.com/contactus).

“This coalition of localities should be commended for looking comprehensively at more than 100 regional tourism attractions across a wide swath of Southern and Central Virginia, including Civil War and Civil Rights destinations, outdoor recreation, agri-tourism and more,” noted the Commission’s staff evaluation.

Virginia’s Retreat, in parallel with the strategic planning process, plans to begin the creation and development of a new trail focused on “Music, Art and Gardens.”

“Preliminary research has revealed many ‘firsts’ and important musical contributions in our region,” commented Beverley P. Hawthorne, Virginia’s Retreat chair.  “Art, in its many forms, is abundant, but needs to be connected to be better appreciated.  We are also trying to bring more attention to all of our agricultural attributes, from farmers markets to formal gardens.”

Currently, Virginia’s Retreat markets the tourism attractions of the 14-member jurisdictions including shopping, museums, outdoor recreational opportunities, as well as the self-guided Route of Lee’s Retreat, Wilson-Kautz Raid and Civil Rights in Education Heritage Trail.

The Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission is a 31-member body created by the 1999 General Assembly to promote economic growth and development in tobacco-dependent communities, using proceeds of the national tobacco settlement. To date, the Commission has awarded 1,407 grants totaling more than $793 million across the tobacco region of the Commonwealth, and has made available nearly $288 million in indemnification payments to tobacco growers and quota holders. For information on the Commission’s history, mission, funding programs and recent grant awards, visit their website at www.tic.virginia.gov or call toll free 877-807-1086.

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