CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WV Information) — After greater than a 12 months of canceled plans and staying at dwelling, tourism in West Virginia is already bouncing again.
In response to West Virginia Tourism Secretary Chelsea Ruby, the state is presently experiencing an uptick in guests seeking to expertise all that’s wild and great.
“We’re seeing increasingly more individuals grow to be snug with journey nationwide, however notably in West Virginia, the place open areas should not exhausting to search out,” she stated. “Should you evaluate our numbers to 2019, we are actually outpacing 2019 so far as arrivals into the state.”
Visits from out-of-state vacationers are up, as are journeys by residents touring two hours or extra to in-state locations, Ruby stated.
“We’ve had a terrific summer time to date and are wanting ahead to welcoming the autumn,” Ruby stated.
On Could 21, Ruby helped rejoice the grand opening of one of many state’s latest tourism sights, Journey Lake at Tygart Lake State Park.
Journey Lake, made doable by a partnership between the West Virginia State Parks system and ACE Journey Resort, options 25 slides, obstacles and different inflatables, in addition to a sandy seashore space with lounge chairs.
The water park is only one of a number of current upgrades and enhancements at Tygart Lake State Park, together with $3 million in renovations to the park’s cabins, campground and lodge, that are anticipated to be accomplished this summer time.
Moreover, greater than $150 million in main enhancements have been accomplished or began at each state park and forest over the previous 4 years, Ruby stated.
This can be a reflection of Justice’s dedication prioritizing the potential of tourism to drive financial growth within the state, Ruby stated.
“We’ve seen this wonderful evolution of tourism in West Virginia,” she stated. “4 years in the past, Gov. Justice stated that we wanted to triple the advertising and marketing funds on the State Tourism Workplace.”
That has resulted in a string of constructive developments, together with the designation of the New River Gorge space because the nation’s latest nationwide park, Ruby stated.
“We’re thrilled to see all of the numbers going up,” she stated. “We’ve seen over a 100% enhance in revenues on the parks.”
In monitoring the current surge in visits to the state, she and her workers have seen some shifts in traveler preferences from earlier than the pandemic, Ruby stated.
“We’re seeing huge will increase in trip leases in West Virginia, each in provide and demand,” she stated. “We’re additionally seeing increasingly more leases come on-line, and we’re seeing the occupancy charges for these properties enhance each single month.”
Her workplace by no means actually modified its total tourism advertising and marketing technique due to the pandemic, Ruby stated.
“Our tourism technique has at all times been about small mountain cities, out of doors recreation, extensive open areas and street journeys,” she stated. “These are issues that we’re persevering with to advertise post-pandemic. We’re seeing that folks across the nation are nonetheless preferring street journeys; they need to get away and do issues outdoor. West Virginia is the proper place.”
The most recent initiative aimed toward selling tourism within the state is the West Virginia Chef Ambassador Program, Ruby stated.
This system will showcase proficient cooks throughout the Mountain State to advertise West Virginia’s culinary innovation, farm-to-table experiences and rising agritourism trade.
“By means of that program, we’re seeking to discover proficient cooks throughout West Virginia who will signal as much as be our ambassador for a 12 months and assist us promote the culinary treasures discovered throughout West Virginia,” she stated.
Ambassadors can be chosen to serve a one-year time period based mostly on a set of analysis standards, comparable to years of expertise within the foodservice trade, demonstration of management inside the area people, innovation and culinary excellence within the office, and assist of West Virginia agriculture.
“Every year, vacationers spend greater than $1.1 billion inside our foodservice trade,” Ruby stated. “Whether or not guests are staying for per week or simply passing by way of, our native flavors are sometimes one of many first and most memorable experiences guests have whereas touring our nation roads.”
Along with receiving their well-earned title of chef ambassador, chosen cooks could have a number of roles and tasks, all of that are designed to domesticate and develop West Virginia’s foodservice trade.
Every ambassador can be chosen to characterize a particular journey area in a myriad of how — from internet hosting instructional seminars for foodservice personnel to working alongside journey writers to advertise and place West Virginia as a must-see culinary vacation spot.
“That is such an unimaginable alternative for us to inform our tales and showcase the expertise discovered within the mountains of West Virginia. I encourage all West Virginians to take a second and nominate their favourite chef in the present day,” Justice stated when saying the initiative. “I do know these chosen will assist us inform our story and shine a light-weight on West Virginia, and I can’t wait to satisfy them.”
One other not too long ago launched program is the West Virginia State Parks Final Adventurer Problem, in addition to its companion program, the West Virginia State Parks Junior Adventurer Problem.
The challenges, open by way of Sept. 30, have been created to steer adventurers of any expertise stage on a sequence of out of doors explorations all through the state parks system.
Those that go to wvstateparks.com/adventurechallenges can request a problem card by way of the mail, which is able to embody challenges comparable to discovering waterfalls and mountaineering a number of trails.
As soon as a problem is accomplished, the participant can get their problem card stamped at any park workplace or present store and put up a photograph to social media utilizing #AlmostHeaven or #WVstateparks.
“This summer time is off to a busy begin in West Virginia’s state parks and forests, and the Adventurer Challenges present much more methods for households to get pleasure from their visits to our parks and public lands,” Ruby stated. “It’s unimaginable to see so many individuals heading to the outside in Nearly Heaven, and now we’re wanting ahead to witnessing the thrill of each out of doors lovers and youngsters who full these new challenges.”
Senior Employees Author Charles Younger could be reached at 304-626-1447 or email@example.com