Capitalizing on Virginia’s Blue Ridge regional success as a well-established sports destination, Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge (Visit VBR) officially announced the formation of VBR Sports.
“We are upping our game,” said Landon Howard, president of Visit VBR. “Developing a stronger regional sports identity under the direction of a new VBR Sports Council along with a Director of Sports Development will allow our five localities to attract far more diverse sporting events and grow the region’s travel and tourism industry.”
VBR Sports will focus on presenting the entire region as a desirable place to host a multitude of new sporting events that will provide for a superior athlete and fan experience.
“Working together with local sports organizers to host various competitive sports will generate a stronger economic impact and put VBR Sports on the map on a much broader scale,” said Bree Nidds, director of Sports Development for VBR Sports.
VBR has experienced tremendous success in attracting sports tourism with this segment of the VBR tourism industry generating 69 percent of the overall group business. Nationally, the amateur sports market (including events that travel) has proven itself recession-resistant and has grown to what is expected to be more than $11 billion in direct visitor spending according to an Ohio University survey in 2017.
Today, kids are playing more competitive sports than ever before. There are more than 30 million boys and girls playing youth sports compared to less than 8 million in 1970. Youth sports tourism is the fastest-growing segment in the travel and tourism industry. It is estimated that some families are spending more than 10 percent of their annual income on sports travel.
“A regional effort marshals all the resources that might be needed to host any event,” said Don Schumacher, former executive director of the National Association of Sports Commissions. “This region has a long track record for staging events. Capitalizing on this, the natural beauty and the central location, you will be hard pressed to find another area that has more expertise in amateur sports.”
In addition to youth sports, VBR Sports plans to continue attracting adult amateur sports as well.
“The combination of youth, amateur, and collegiate level events opens the door to bidding on more diverse sports opportunities,” Nidds said. “This builds on our reputation to successfully host championships and tournaments started by the City of Salem and brand VBR Sports as a premier sports destination nationally.”
The official launch of VBRSports.com and the kickoff event for VBR Sports was held on January 31, 2018 at Countryside Sportsplex in Roanoke, VA. Several local officials, sports organizers and representatives from multiple sports facilities attended this special announcement.