INDEPENDENCE — Grayson County Tourism has received a $20,000 grant for its outdoor recreation marketing campaign, titled “The OLD, the NEW, the HIGHEST, and YOU.”

The grant was part of $2.7 million in Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) recently announced by Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

Grayson County Tourism partnered with Independence Farmers’ Market and Village to Village Press LLC to supply $22,075 in matching funds for the project.

Tracy Cornett, tourism economic development director for Grayson, said one objective of this marketing program is to drive additional overnight and/or out-of-region visitation to the county ounty by giving away one immersive outdoor activity and overnight stay per month, from April until October 2023.

The VTC grant will allow Grayson County Tourism to advertise its outdoor recreation activities via social media, in “Blue Ridge Outdoors” magazine, on Trip Advisor, through digital spotlights and an advertising blitz at official Virginia Visitor Centers, and in “Our State” magazine, a North Carolina publication.

“Getting word out that Grayson County offers a plethora of outdoor recreation opportunities, peaceful vacation rentals and a quiet place to disconnect is essential in increasing our tourism metrics each year,” Cornett said. “Our county is truly a hidden gem with beauty that rivals any destination in the world. It is the perfect place to get outdoors and leave stress behind. Many tourists already visit our competitors nearby. This program allows us the opportunity to invite these visitors to our community, as well.”

Cornett also said that the grant will allow the tourism department to expand its advertising campaigns that have been successful in the past. “Budget limitations have driven us to market our destination just prior to warm weather. Grayson County has beautiful fall foliage, and it is still warm enough to do most of our outdoor recreation opportunities. The VTC Tourism Marketing Grant will allow us to invite people to visit for a longer period than we have in the past. We will no longer have to limit our marketing initiatives to end in August when students go back to school, but we can capture the attention of individuals who can travel in the so-called ‘off-season.’ ”

Grayson County has much to offer visitors. It is home to the two highest peaks in Virginia — Mount Rogers and Whitetop Mountain — and at least 20 other peaks are near or above 5,000 feet, making it the most mountainous county in Virginia.

Two state parks — the New River Trail and Grayson Highlands — call Grayson County home. The Virginia Creeper Trail, regarded as one of the nation’s best bike trails, begins at Whitetop and Grayson has numerous other hiking and biking trails.

The New River — the second-oldest river in the world — runs through the county, which also also contains “creeks, rivers and streams around every bend that are full of colossal fish,” the county’s marketing materials say, along with “rock bluffs and boulders that will challenge the most experienced rock climbers,” horse trails, abundant wildlife, famous wild ponies and much more.

“Life is a bit slower here, making us the perfect place to disconnect from the stresses of everyday life and reconnect to the people and activities you love,” according to the tourism department.

Cornett said the intention is to invite people to enjoy the county’s “OLD, NEW, HIGHEST and YOU” offerings from May through October.

Rita McClenny, president and CEO of Virginia Tourism said that, “increased visitation translates directly into revenue generation, underscoring tourism’s important role in stimulating economic growth and expansion.”