What do Panama, Puglia, Italy and the Falkland Islands have in common with Williamsburg? According to the New York Times, they are some of the top spots in the world to visit in 2019.
In an article published last week, The New York Times ranked Williamsburg 12th of 52 top locations to visit in 2019.
“When you look through some of the different places, whether it's in the U.S. or internationally, that’s a pretty good list of places to go,” said Ron Kirkland, executive director of the Williamsburg Hotel and Motel Association. “So to be in that company certainly makes you feel good.”
Dave Potter, director of marketing communications for the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance, said Williamsburg is a great place to visit because it has something for everyone.
“Museums, attractions, roller coasters, fun things to do, breweries, places to eat, wineries, distilleries. There’s just a really wide variety of ways for people to just relax and have fun, and that’s what someone wants to do when they go somewhere — relax and have fun,” Kirkland said.
Despite all the attractions, Potter said Williamsburg is a somewhat unexpected travel destination, because while people think of Colonial Williamsburg, they don’t think about it being home to the world’s most beautiful theme park, Busch Gardens, or the area’s art galleries and national parks.
“We’re a lot more than just history,” Potter said.
In addition to the variety of attractions, Kirkland said coming to Williamsburg is relatively inexpensive compared to other locations on the Times’ list, such as China or Italy.
“We’re a pretty easy place to get to and it’s not a huge hassle,” Kirkland said. “If you want to spend your time in airports, there are a lot of places you can go. If you want to spend your time with your family and your friends, (Williamsburg) is a great place to visit.”
Kirkland said the publicity will likely bring the city more tourists in coming years, and when it does, Williamsburg will have the space for them.
For example, Kirkland said last year, traditional hotel and motels only filled 50 percent of their rooms. There are about 7,000 traditional hotel rooms in the county, according to Kirkland.
“Our capacity would suggest we could support another 2,500,000 people,” Kirkland said. “I don’t think they’re all going to come this year, but there is capacity at our attractions, there is capacity at our restaurants — so yeah we can handle a big influx.”
In addition to the publicity from the article, Kirkland said the Williamsburg Tourism Council increasing marketing funds will also help attract new tourists to the area.
“(The article) can only attract more folks, and get them to come see what Williamsburg is about and hopefully tell their friends and come again,” Kirkland said.
Heymann can be reached by phone at 757-298-5828 or on Twitter at @HeymannAmelia.