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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Life in Hampton Roads: Economics and Tourism

This report examines regional perceptions of economic conditions and tourism from the 2017 Life In Hampton Roads survey (LIHR 2017) conducted by the Old Dominion University Social Science Research Center. Data from prior years is also provided when available to show comparisons in responses over time. Responses were weighted by city population, race, age, gender, and phone usage (cell versus land-line) to be representative of the Hampton Roads region. For additional information on survey methodology, and analyses of other issues, please see the SSRC website at www.odu.edu/ssrc.

Survey respondents were asked to rate the economic conditions in Hampton Roads today. A vast majority of our respondents answered good (43.4percent) or fair (40.4 percent). The percentage of respondents who feel the economy is doing 'good' has declined nearly seven percent since 2015. Conversely, 8.2 percent said they believed economic conditions were poor. Only 6.2 percent of residents believed economic conditions to be excellent.

Respondents were asked a series of questions about tourism and the perceived benefits of tourism in Hampton Roads. Residents were asked whether they believed that tax revenue from tourism helps the Hampton Roads region pay for police, fire, roads and other services. Over 70 percent of respondents generally agreed (13.7 percent strongly agreed, 60.4 percent agreed) that the tax from tourism helps with public services needed here in Hampton Roads. Less than 15 percent of respondents generally disagreed (12 percent disagreed, 2.3 percent strongly disagreed).

We subsequently asked survey respondents if they believed that because of tax revenue generated from tourism, the residents in Hampton Roads pay lower property taxes. Nearly 50 percent of the respondents generally disagreed (40.8 percent agreed, 8.2 percent strongly disagreed) that the tax from tourism lowers property taxes in Hampton Roads. In opposition, generally 34.5 percent agreed (29.3 percent agreed, 5.2 percent strongly agreed). A sizeable minority did not know or declined to answer (16.6percent).

In addition, survey respondents were asked if they believed that tax revenue from tourism in Hampton Roads pays for amenities and other things that improve quality of life. Over 55 percent of respondents generally agreed (53.5 percent agreed, 5.5 percent strongly agreed) that the tax from tourism pays for amenities that improve the quality of life in the area. In opposition, 28.9 percent generally disagreed (26.4percent disagreed, 2.5 percent strongly disagreed).

Lastly, we asked survey respondents if they believe that elected officials in Hampton Roads should support policies that promote tourism. Over 80 percent of the respondents generally agreed (73.3 percent agreed, 10.8 percent strongly agreed) that elected officials should support tourism. In opposition, less than 11 percent of people generally disagreed (9.7 percent disagreed, 0.8 percent strongly disagreed).

In summary, perceptions of economic and political conditions in Hampton Roads have remained generally the same since last year. However, there was a decrease in the percentage of people who believed that economic conditions were excellent or good. Respondents also generally think that tax revenue from tourism benefitted the area by aiding in public services and improving the local quality of life.

All Life in Hampton Roads data summaries will be placed on the Social Science Research Center website as they are released (http://www.odu.edu/al/centers/ssrc). Follow-up questions about the 2016 Life in Hampton Roads survey should be addressed to:

Randy Gainey, PhD

Faculty Director

The Social Science Research Center

Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice

Old Dominion University

757-683-4794 (office)



Tancy Vandecar-Burdin, PhD

Associate Director

The Social Science Research Center

Old Dominion University

757-683-3802 (office)


Previous 2017 Life in Hampton Roads Survey results:

Quality of Life

Crime and Police

Health and Education


Sea Level Rise


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