WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — Ohio Valley businesses interested in boosting tourism in the Northern Pandhandle welcomed the director of destination development from the West Virginia Department of Tourism.

Ennis Smith was on hand for a meeting Friday at West Virginia Northern Community College to hear from the businesses to gather feedback about the tourism and hospitality industry here in the Ohio Valley.

Smith says the West Virginia Department of tourism received a $5.1 million dollar grant from the Economic Department Administration for tourism workforce development under the American Rescue Plan Act.

Although the meeting was held at the college in Wheeling, the grant will be used to boost tourism across the entire Mountain State.

Smith says one of the things that resonated with her among Ohio Valley businesses was really what she calls, “Hospitality 101.”

People need these soft skills in the tourism industry and that’s something we can hopefully work with as part of the grant that we have received to try to provide funding for trainings for the hospitality businesses in the area to try to develop for them and their staff some of these soft skills, some of this Hospitality 101 as well as leadership and management skills.

Ennis Smith, WV Department of Tourism

Smith also adds that there is plenty of room for advancement for workers in the tourism and hospitality industry.

She says the West Virginia Department of Tourism also provides monthly trainings and many of those sessions focus on marketing and social media which are two other components that are extremely important to this industry.

Businesses can go to WV tourism and scroll to the bottom of the page then click on industry resources to connect to the partner portal for more information.