Board of Supervisors Meeting Date: 

Richard W. Robison, Center District Supervisor

February 17, 2004

Staff Lead:


Anthony I. Hooper, Acting Deputy County Administrator

County Administration


Review of County Tourism Program

Topic Description:

In April 2001, the County Tourism Program was initiated, when the Board of Supervisors approved the request of the Economic Development Council to form a tourism task force to review the role and scope of tourism in the County.  Tourism is identified as one of five areas of focus within the County Plan for economic development.  Tourism provides a means of sustaining and developing cultural and heritage attractions and a means of enhancing many visitor related businesses in the community.


In August 2001, the Tourism Task Force reported to the Board and recommended that a Fauquier County Tourism Advisory Council and Tourism Program should be established.  The report from the Task Force is attached.


A Tourism Coordinator position was approved in the 2004 budget and the program was placed with the Fauquier County Department of Economic Development.  A Tourism Coordinator position was filled on July 21, 2003.


Previously, the Town and County have, since 1994, funded the operation of a Visitors Center operated by the Chamber of Commerce and located in Warrenton.


Fauquier County and the Town of Warrenton have traditionally funded within their budgets the shared costs for the operation of the Visitors Center and have left the Center operation up to the Chamber of Commerce.  In the past two years, the Chamber of Commerce has signed an Operations Agreement with the County and Town to formalize the funding and responsibilities of the Visitors Center.  The Chamber of Commerce has decided that it will forgo the funding agreement and the operation of the Visitors Center at the end of fiscal year 2004.  See attached Operations Agreement.


During the same time period, the County established a Tourism Advisory Committee, hired a Tourism Coordinator, and established a Tourism Program under the Fauquier County Department of Economic Development.  The goal of the County in establishing a Tourism Program is to extend the development of tourism beyond the Visitors Center by coordinating tourism-related businesses and activities and developing elements that could be marketed in a proactive manner.


It is believed that the most effective Tourism partnership with the Town of Warrenton entails cooperative efforts.  The Town of Warrenton is in the process of developing a Visitors Center that will be located on the grounds of the Mosby House.  The Town has been successful in obtaining grant funds for this effort and the County has previously committed $40,000 in support of this project.  It would be the expectation of the County that the Town will operate a Visitors Center in a manner consistent with the Virginia Tourism Department certification standards.  The County would expect the Tourism Coordinator to interact with the Visitor Center staff and provide marketing materials and information that would be disseminated to visitors.


The County’s role in the cooperative tourism program is to develop and promote tourism within the County.  The County has many businesses and attractions ranging from wineries, museums, parks, meeting and conference centers, heritage and cultural sites and special events that depend upon visitors if these businesses and activities are to prosper.  The County Tourism Coordinator, working in the Department of Economic Development and in conjunction with a Tourism Advisory Committee, will be responsible for the coordination, development and marketing of these programs.  The County will be responsible for the following major activities:


  1. Coordinating and promoting special events  both electronic and print advertising;
  2. Disseminating information promoting Fauquier and Warrenton historical, cultural, environmental, agricultural and commercial resources available to visitors;
  3. Develop and produce brochures;
  4. Develop tourist information services in the Marshall and Goldvein areas utilizing existing resources;
  5. Develop and disseminate a monthly calendar of events;
  6. Develop a tourism website that promotes all local programs and provide local information for inclusion on the Virginia Tourism website;
  7. Develop press releases and advertising efforts to promote visitor attractions;
  8. Work with representatives of existing attractions and events to promote and expand visitor resources; and
  9. Other tourism related programs that will be developed.


Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors: 

It is requested that the Board review and define roles and responsibilities of the County to develop a comprehensive and coordinated Tourism Program.  It is suggested that one approach envisions a cooperative effort with the Town of Warrenton, in which the Town will be responsible for the funding, development and operation of a Visitors Center and the County will be responsible for funding, coordinating, marketing and developing visitor attractions and resources within the Town and County.  The County will also provide unattended visitor information resources in cooperation with County agencies in the Goldvein and Marshall areas.  If the Board concurs with this concept, it will serve as the basis for further discussions with Town officials to refine the proposed cooperative program.


Financial Impacts Analysis:

During the current year, the County provides financial support for tourism through partial funding of the Visitors Center in the amount of $62,500, and through staff and support services included in the Economic Development office in the amount of $60,000.


It is envisioned that these resources will be redirected in the 2004-2005 budget.


Identify any other Departments, Organizations or Individuals that would be affected by this request:

Department of Economic Development

Town of Warrenton

Tourism Advisory Committee