Lynchburg, VA - The Hill city is drawing more and more people to the area. New numbers show that tourism revenue in Virginia topped more than $20 billion last year. In Lynchburg, that number was a record of $156 million. That's according to the United States Travel Association.
Market at Main owner Rodney Taylor says business has been booming, and people are visiting from all over. He says that's because Lynchburg is becoming more of a destination location.
"A lot of people are taking advantage of the Amtrak service. We see a lot of people from Northern Virginia and Washington coming to Lynchburg just to spend the weekend, which is great," he said.
The latest numbers show tourism revenue in the Hill City is up 8.8 %. That's compared to a state average increase of 8 %from 2010 to 2011.
Robert Crocker owns and run the Acorn Hill Lodge bed and breakfast in Lynchburg and has done so for almost 20 years. He says lately, more visitors have been staying at his lodge.
"We have had people come in just to visit Lynchburg and check out downtown area and the revitalization and the different tourist attractions," said Crocker.
So what's attracting tourists to the Hill City?
"We are right in the middle of so many renowned and well-known sights within a 30-mile radius. So people who come to see Lynchburg can branch out and see what's in the region," said Beckie Nix, director of tourism.
That's what brought St. Petersburg, Florida resident John Pecore to the 'Burg.
"Going up and around circles and up the mountains, that's wonderful. I've been to your cemeterythat was really differentthe Confederate side of it and everything. Lynchburg's a beautiful place," said Pecore.
Whatever the reason, business owners are loving it.
"It can never be too much, no. It's great to see the increases, but there's always a lot more room for more," said Taylor.
The director of tourism says Lynchburg has spent a good deal of money on marketing, which is helping to put the city on the map.
Get the full report broken down by localities here.