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The annual state of the region report highlights the role of vaccination in the economy and raises concerns about casinos

NORFOLK, Virginia (WAVY) – The annual State of the Region report sheds light on how deep the impact the pandemic has had on the Hampton Roads economy and how those rebuilding efforts are working.

The report of Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy at Old Dominion University tried to answer the question: “How do we set up the region so that it will continue to grow in the future and not just next year?”

Professor of Economics Dr. Bob McNab says the first major excerpt from the report explains how one thing helped the Hampton Roads economy recover: vaccines.

“Public health and economic health are two sides of the same coin. We have seen that in the past two years. When infections increase, people withdraw from spending, ”he said.

The report also looks at other key industries in our local economy and shows some promising signs as they slowly begin to grow.

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“Defense spending will rise in the coming year, the hotel industry had a robust year, even in the middle of the Delta variant. And freight traffic across the port has increased, ”he said.

As vaccination rates rose, vacation trips also rose sharply compared to the previous year, which, according to economics professor Dr. Vinod Agarwal should be very good news for hotels.

“Hoteliers want to forget about 2020 and see what I say, they will remember 2021 for a long time,” he said.

Another area under the microscope: casinos.

Economists say the proposed casinos in Norfolk and Portsmouth would need to attract a large source of income from visitors outside of Hampton Roads to affect our economy.

Otherwise, casinos would already be circulating money here and initial data suggests that the impact may not be as great as expected.

“10% of the revenue from these casinos comes from outside of Hampton Roads,” said Agarwal. “We therefore do not believe that the casinos will have a significant impact on the performance of our economy.”

Our local economy is heavily reliant on leisure travel which could result in more money being spent in the proposed casinos.

Still, economists say they aren’t overly optimistic about the implications for the future of Hampton Roads right now.

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