Midweek Interview

Life in the time of COVID-19 with Virginia Tourism Corporation’s Rita McClenny

This week, Virginia Tourism’s president and CEO took us for a jaunt along the James River in Richmond. She also kindly answered the following questions for us…

What are you reading? 

Running with Giants by John C. Maxwell. He is a fantastic writer, brilliant at deconstructing the power within us and providing advice on how to empower others.

What are you watching? 

Season 3 of Yellowstone on the Paramount Network. I just adore the drama and the weekly unfolding of life on that Montana ranch. The characters are complex and the scenery is stunningly beautiful.

What are you listening to? 

Audra Day. She plays Billy Holiday in the USA vs Billy Holiday on Hulu. She is so talented with a deep rich sound. It’s intoxicating and her sound stays with me.

What are you cooking? 

Not much! I love the Richmond VA restaurant scene and like to support them, now more than ever. No banana bread or pasta for me, LOL!

How are you staying fit both physically and mentally? 

I work out five days a week and take power walks along the James River in Richmond, VA. Not only is it exhilarating but it makes for great people and pet watching.

What’s something positive you’ve witnessed or experienced since the coronavirus hit? 

The world has connected via virtual platforms, and in some ways, we are actually closer to those far away, and able to address topics of mutual interest that are impacting us all during this global pandemic.

There also seems to have emerged an even deeper appreciation for travel and connecting with loved ones.

What have you learned about yourself amid the crisis? 

I am now looking at everything with an eye towards simplicity. The little things in my life matter more and are truly cherished – like morning tea, sunrises and sunsets.

What’s your advice for others in the industry on coping with the crisis? 

Let’s stay connected until we meet again in person. The power of technology has been an indispensable resource to keep us engaged.

Where is your favourite domestic travel destination? 

Any place I can ride a horse in Virginia is my favourite destination. I truly love to experience a location from horseback.

What is the one international travel memory keeping you going through this time? 

The iconic movie Dirty Dancing was filmed in Virginia at Mountain Lake Lodge in the Blue Ridge.

One of my all-time favourite travel memories comes from my time in Sydney, sharing and helping recreate that special movie experience one evening for media and operators at our ‘Dirty Dancing’ event. You Aussies certainly know how to have fun!

Where do you want to travel to once international travel restrictions ease up? 

Both Singapore and Greece are on my list to visit as soon as feasibly possible for exploration, food and adventure.


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