tourism

Governor's Office

With millions of extra dollars for tourism, West Virginia is kicking off a marketing campaign to sell its story to surrounding states.

On Friday, state Tourism Commissioner Amy Shuler Goodwin announced the campaign titled "Real." The push is based on market research and features West Virginians talking about what their outdoorsy communities have to offer.

Goodwin said the campaign taps into part of $4.7 million extra in newly approved tourism marketing money.

West Virginia Legislature

Gov. Tomblin was joined by members of the state Legislature, Division of Tourism representatives and craft brewers from around the state for the ceremonial signing of two bills Monday.

He signed Senate Bill 581, transferring oversight of the state Courtesy Patrol from the Division of Tourism to the Division of Highways.

Some of the funding for the program though, about $4.2 million, will stay with the Division of Tourism to be used for a national and regional advertising campaign.

At the legislature today, Republican leaders are one step closer to realizing their tort reform goals this session as the Senate passes a bill imposing comparative fault. The amended bill heads back to the House for its approval. And on tourism day at the legislature, we'll meet the new Tourism Commissioner and find out her priorities to grow the number of visitors to the state. These stories and more coming up on The Legislature Today.

Jessica Lilly / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

 Update Wednesday January 7, 2015 11:46 a.m.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is postponing the meeting due to weather/road conditions. In an email, Kelley Gillenwater with the DEP said,

"Due to the inclement weather conditions in the Oak Hill area, tonight’s public hearing on the Danny Webb UIC permit applications will be reschedule. The date, time and location have not yet been determined but an announcement with those details will be made within the next couple of days."

Fiona Ritchie
University of North Carolina Press

This week we have a special episode of Inside Appalachia as we explore Appalachia through a multi-cultural lens, looking at how our culture connects to Ireland, Scotland, Wales and even Romania. We'll even visit a Hare Krishna Temple in West Virginia. And do you want to find out what Irish Road Bowling is and where you can go to see a game? Listen to the podcast to find out more.

Ken Thomas / wikimedia Commons

Five thousand people on some 500 boats are expected on the Gauley River beginning Friday as the U.S. Corp of Engineers begins drawing down the water levels on Summersville Lake, releasing a thunderous amount of water into the Upper and Lower sections of the Gauley.

The releases will occur during the next 7 consecutive weekends, supporting the local rafting industry and ensuring the river maintains its world class rafting status.

A faith based organization plans to develop land in West Virginia to create a youth camp. The New River Gorge Regional Development Authority made the announcement earlier this week.

Young Life, a non-denominational Christian organization, plans to build an adventure camp in Nicholas County close to Mt. Nebo.

The organization has 35 camps around the globe according to their website. In a release, Young Life’s state Director, Scott Berg, said it was the outdoor activities, and landscape that attracted the group to West Virginia.


National Park Service

A new National Park Service report shows that visitors to national park areas in southern West Virginia spent $51 million in nearby communities in 2013.

The report says a little more than 1,243,000 people from around the world visited the New River Gorge National River, the Bluestone National Scenic River, and the Gauley River National Recreation Area in 2013.

In a release today NPS Superintendent Trish Kicklighter said that in addition to providing visitors remarkable experiences in America's outdoors, National Park  Tourism is a significant driver in the national economy.

A young yoga skeptic finds interest in the exercises.

Kentucky farmers are testing the nutritional value of hay.

And a music camp carries on the tradition of ole time Appalachian music.

Residents concerned about environmental impact. After approval for a mountain top removal site near Kanawha State Forest, the safety of people living in the area are not the only red flag being raised. As Ashton Marra of West Virginia Public Radio reports, the possible effects on plant and animal life are drawing criticism.

Roxy Todd

Agri-tourism is not a new concept to Jennifer "Tootie" Jones. A fifth generation farmer, she raises grass fed beef on Swift Level Farm in Lewisburg. She was one of the farmers who attended yesterday’s event at the Capitol Market. She sells beef to 14 West Virginia restaurants and several retail stores, some of which are featured on a new online map, called Bon Appétit Appalachia, a project by the Appalachian Regional Commission. There’s also a print map, which lists 283 food destinations across the region, including:

NPR fellow Leah Binkovitz reports on the increase of ATV tourism in West Virginia and concerns over safety and regulation in this report for WBUR's Here & Now.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers / recreation.gov

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is preparing to open campgrounds at five West Virginia lakes.
 
The corps says the Bakers Run and G.R. Freeman campgrounds at Sutton Lake will open April 18. The Bee Run campground opened on April 1.

Gov. Tomblin's office (@GovTomblin / Twitter)

Child abuse and poverty prevention advocates are questioning Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s priorities.

Among the $67 million worth of cuts from the budget bill Thursday was about a $1 million reduction in funding for programs meant to prevent child abuse and child poverty.

Governor Tomblin started the 2014 session with a budget that cut funding for programs like In Home Family Education, Family Resource Networks, Child Advocacy Centers and other child abuse prevention programs.

Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Two new geocache trails geared toward tourists open this weekend in West Virginia.

The Cabell County/Huntington Geotrail will take visitors on a treasure hunt through Cabell County looking for 15 caches. The Cabell-Huntington Convention and Visitors Bureau web site says the trail will include various types of geocaches including traditionals, unknowns and multis. This is the first time Cabell County is offering a geocache trail.

Meanwhile, the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Convention and Visitors Bureau kicks off its second annual geocache trail.

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

With the state eclipsing the $5 billion mark for tourism revenue in 2012, this week’s Travel  South Conference in Charleston gave visitors bureaus across the state a chance to cash in and drive even more tourism opportunities to their respective areas. But the conference comes nearly seven weeks after the spill of thousands of gallons of MCHM into the Elk River by Freedom Industries. 

Many locals worry that the tourism economy would, much like the water, be left with a tainted reputation. Tourism professionals from across the country seemed unphased by the water crisis while here and local travel professionals hope the stigma of the spill won’t last. 

The family of an EMT who died on the job honors him with a scholarship to promote his vocation, an online program called West Virginia Welcome helps statewide the hospitality and tourism industries, and Beth Vorhees speaks with horror writer Frank Larnerd discusses his book Hills of Fire: Bare-Knuckled Yarns of Appalachia.

A new, free hospitality training program is available online. WV Welcome is a free course designed to help folks in the tourism industry better serve guests from out of state.

Jerry Henderson became an advocate for hospitality when she opened her own Bed and Breakfast about 20 years ago in Buckhannon.  She now serves as the treasurer of WV Hospitality and Travel Association and says knowing the best ways to be a gracious host is not only good for business, it’s good for the state.

New environmental regs, coal a tourism draw in southern W.Va, an historic clock in downtown Lexington Ky. restored and Big Stone Gap Va. gets a taste of Hollywood.

WVU Professor on EPA Regulations: With the proposed regulations targeting new coal-fired power plants, one West Virginia University law professor is predicting new challenges for the region’s coal industry.