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Virginia’s tourism strategy this year: Love overdose

Love will be bigger than ever for travelers in Virginia in 2013, judging by the Virginia Tourism Corp. preview Wednesday of what’s new for the year.

Whether it’s love for “Lincoln,” love for craft beer, love for culinary adventures, love for new attractions, love for YouTube videos, or even love for giant LOVE signs, travelers will find a lot of new choices competing to win their hearts.

New attractions debuting during the year include the Peanuts-themed children’s area at Kings Dominion called Planet Snoopy, the $27 million renovation of Roanoke’s Center in the Square to include a coral reef aquarium and green rooftop pavilion, and a new luxury Salamander Resort and Spa near Middleburg.

Outdoors, a dual zip line at Massanutten Resort and a proposed 480-mile off-road Virginia Mountain Bike Trail promise excitement.

A new series of YouTube videos on the theme, “For the LOVE of Travel,” explore Virginia as the oyster capital of the East Coast and through rock star wine adventures, a historic food crawl, kayaking for clams and wine, and music legends of the Crooked Road.

Virginia’s giant LOVE letters are popping up in new configurations using wine corks at Veritas Vineyards, log cabin timbers at Luray Caverns, a suitcase theme at Norfolk International Airport and film reels in Culpeper, all of which are pinpointed on an interactive map of LOVEworks at www.virginia.org/LOVE.

Other interactive maps feature 40 craft breweries, 220 wineries, nearly a dozen hard cideries and a “Lincoln Trail” following the Virginia footsteps of the nation’s 16th president and those of the film crew who told his story in the Oscar-nominated movie.

The Virginia tourism website won the 2012 award for best travel website from the National Council of State Tourism Directors. Virginia is for Lovers Facebook page had 272,000 friends as of the end of last year.

Tourism in Virginia generated $20.4 billion in visitor spending in 2011 and $1.32 billion in state and local taxes, said Rita McClenny, president and CEO of Virginia Tourism Corp. The film industry spent $395 million in the state, with $64 million attributed to “Lincoln.”

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