Interior Secretary Ken Salazar meets with Governor McDonnell

Posted at 2:08 PM, Feb 01, 2012
and last updated 2012-02-02 13:09:28-05

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) - Virginia's tourism industry generates $19 billion each year, but members of the private and public sector think Virginia can do a better job attracting visitors.

State leaders looked to <!--////-->Secretary of the Interior<!--////--> Ken Salazar for guidance Wednesday as he announced the preservation of 385 acres at <!--////-->Richmond<!--////--> National Battlefield at Glendale National Cemetery in eastern Henrico.

The move is a $4 million effort to help save Virginia’s past.

Additionally, Salazar said he believes boosting tourism for Virginia’s historic sites big draw for. great pocan be more of an economic engine.

“We’re going to promote America for people to come and spend money and create jobs in the U.S.” said Salazar.

During his visit to eastern Henrico, Salazar organized a town hall meeting with travel and tourism experts from across VA.

The goal is to make Virginia more attractive to visitors, not just from other states, but from across the globe.

Representatives from the Museum of the Confederacy, wine festivals and the City of <!--////-->Petersburg<!--////--> attended the event and offered feedback.

City Manager <!--////-->William Johnson<!--////--> said working together will benefit all.

“This will hopefully bring 100,000 to 150,000 more visitors to Petersburg. This roundtable not only helps Petersburg but all up and down the 95, 85 and 460 corridor,” said Johnson.

Tourism is Virginia’s third largest industry, generating $19 billion and supporting 200,000 jobs every year.

For Salazar, who is a Democrat, and Governor McDonnell, a republican, those are figures everyone can agree on.

“First and foremost we’re all Americans. We agree that these lands need to be preserved and the side benefit is it is good for jobs,” said McDonnell.

Salazar listened to each person who had a concern or an idea about boosting tourism in Virginia. He took the list back to Washington and to include in a comprehensive report he will release in the next few weeks.

At the end of the town hall meeting, Governor McDonnell presented the Salazar with a bag full of Virginia goods and invited him to return as a tourist in the future.