This is Tourism Appreciation Week in Fairfax County, and the observance began Monday with a Travel and Tourism job fair at the Westin Tyson’s Hotel. Virginia Tourism Director Alisa Bailey came from Richmond to join Fairfax County Convention and Visitor’s Corporation (www.fxva.com) Executive Director Barry Biggar and me in a kick-off to the job fair, complete with a county proclamation and cake!
In addition to Mount Vernon, Hilton, and Marriott booths, the popular Falls Church/Fairview Park restaurant, 2941, was featured, along with George Mason University’s new Mason Inn, which is scheduled to open this summer. 2941(www.2941.com) received multiple RAMMY award nominations this year from the Metro Washington Restaurant Association.
Tourism revenue in Fairfax County is estimated at $2.5 billion overall, supporting 30,000 jobs in the hospitality industry. With more than 19,000 rooms in more than 100 hotels, Fairfax County sells well over four million room nights every year. Money brought in through local tourism helps reduce property taxes for Fairfax County residents. The county receives a point-of-sale portion of the sales taxes and room taxes generated by visitors. Some jurisdictions also collect meals taxes, which can generate extra millions of dollars to local coffers; Fairfax County does not have the authority to impose a meals tax. Three of the top 25 National Capital Region area attractions are located in Fairfax County: Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts, the Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air and Space Museum, and Mount Vernon, and five of the 25 largest shopping centers in the region are located in Fairfax County.
In my remarks, I noted that there are some terrific local venues that might not be listed in the big traveler’s guide, and some are very close by. In Mason District, Green Spring Gardens (www.fairfaxcounty.gov/living/parks) is a 26-acre horticultural gem, with exquisite native plant gardens, a national witch hazel collection, a manor house dating back to the late 1700s where you can arrange special teas, and a lovely gift shop. Huntley Meadows, in Lee District, is a nature lover’s preserve, with miles of walking trails and rare plant specimens. You feel that you are miles from civilization; in reality, you are in the middle of a vibrant and diverse community. A trip to Dranesville Tavern or Sully Plantation will take you back a couple of hundred years to see how ordinary people lived. Or you can visit Frying Pan Farm Park, and relive the working farm life of only a few decades ago, when Fairfax County was the leading dairy producer in Virginia.
You can visit the Reston Town Center and enjoy sidewalk dining, concerts under the stars, and boutique shopping. Get “historied out” by combining a visit to Mount Vernon, Woodlawn Plantation, and Gunston Hall in the southern part of the county. Visit the galleries and art studios at the Lorton Arts Foundation (www.lortonarts.org), which is transforming the former D.C. Prison site into something creative and exciting. Whether you are interested in past history or future exploration, whether you travel alone or with the family for fun and recreation, Fairfax County has it all. It’s a great place to visit, and it’s a great place to live!
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at [email protected]