People gathered for the second day of the West Virginia’s Governor’s conference on tourism Monday at the Mountaineer Casino. West Virginia may not be one of the leading states in tourism, but the over 200 attendees at the conference can all agree that the state can do better.
Filled with history and adventurous activities like white water rafting and hiking, West Virginia has a lot to offer. In fact, our area is one of the leading tourist regions in the state. Olivia Litman, the Marketing Director for Wheeling/Ohio County CVB, said, “The Northern Panhandle has always been much more I guess more wonderful when you talk about the Wild & Wonderful West Virginia. We’ve seen a big boom over the years in the gas and oil industry. We’ve also seen a huge increase in our leisure traveler and business traveler. So we’ve got a lot to be proud of here in the Northern Panhandle.”
The past few years of data show that West Virginia has seen a 15 percent decline in travel spending. Chelsea Ruby, the WV Tourism Commissioner, said, “So all in all, I think everyone understands that tourism is really a great investment for this state. We just got to make some tweaks and try to figure out how do we get those numbers trending back in the right direction.”
Even though the state budget made a lot of cuts within the past year, the legislature spared the tourism agency. Ruby said, “Not only does it bring more people in, it has a strong economic impact, return on investment, it does it quickly.”
The conference talked about the different ways to boost tourism, including advertising. Dan Greathouse, the Executive Director for Top of WV CVB, said, “Well I think we’re going to take all of our advertising and make it the same, so when someone looks at an advertisement from West Virginia, they’re going to know it’s from West Virginia. If it’s from Hancock county, Hardy county, or Wirt county, or Wood county, it’s going to have the same format, not exactly the same type, but it’s going to have the same format, so it’s going to have a brand that they know it’s West Virginia.”
Governor Justice was a speaker at the banquet dinner, and he’s considered one of the state’s biggest cheerleaders for tourism.