The McDonnell administration is proposing $1 million in state funds to promote OpSail 2012. OpSail and the U. S. Navy will bring tall ships, naval vessels, and the Blue Angels flight demonstration team to each port city, beginning in New Orleans in May 2012 and ending in Boston Harbor on July 4, 2012. Norfolk and the Port of Hampton Roads will host the OpSail flotilla from June 6-11, 2012, in conjunction with Norfolk's annual Harborfest celebration.
The funding was announced December 8 by Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling at the Half Moone Cruise Terminal in Norfolk. Gov. Bob McDonnell said the state's investment will leverage significant private dollars. This funding, money left over from an economic development fund, will be invested in tour and travel initiatives, marketing and advertising, educational and research activities, and events across the state that will generate an estimated $100 million in additional revenue for the participating localities and Virginia residents.
The Port of Virginia was one of the five official ports of call for OpSail 2000. More than two million people attended events during a five-day period, with 500 members of the regional, national, and international media present to report on the activities. The Commonwealth’s investment of $1 million in General Funds leveraged more than $9 million from the private sector, resulting in a conservative $58 million in visitor and ship direct spending. Area hotels reported 90-100% occupancy, and there was record breaking attendance for many attractions.
“As home to the largest Naval Base in the world and site where many of the battles of the War of 1812 were fought, Norfolk and the Port of Hampton Roads are particularly honored to host this event that recognizes the history of our U. S. Navy”, said Paul D. Fraim, Mayor of Norfolk. “We understand and appreciate the significance of maritime history and events like OpSail that are tremendous opportunities to educate and enlighten our citizens, especially our youth, about our history and the importance of our military forces.”
For more about OpSail 2012, visit www.opsail.org.