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Area talking tourism: Working together key to effort


The Weirton Daily Register

WELLSBURG, W.Va.  — When considering vacation destinations, people are looking for a variety of things to see and do and places to stay and eat, so it benefits tourism agencies, parks, museums and businesses to promote each other, said Will Miller, outdoor recreation specialist for the West Virginia Division of Tourism.

Will Miller, outdoor recreation specialist for the West Virginia Division of Tourism, offered advice to representatives of several organizations working to bring visitors to the area Wednesday at Brooke Hills Park. To his left is Doug Arbogast, rural tourism development specialist for the West Virginia University Extension Service, which organized the meeting.
(Photo by Warren Scott)

“They don’t care about borders. They want to know about things they can do that are close to each other,” Miller told a gathering at Brooke Hills Park Wednesday of leaders of convention and visitors bureaus, parks and other attractions from throughout the Northern Panhandle and Steubenville.

Miller added the officials shouldn’t be concerned about being different.

“People want experiences you can’t have everywhere so don’t be afraid of being different,” he advised.

Miller said the state’s GoToWV website and app provides information about a variety of recreational activities, points of interest and places to stay, eat and shop and receives thousands of visits each day.

He encouraged the attendees to use the site and to use photos and videos to attract the interest of today’s many users of social media.

Doug Arbogast, rural tourism development specialist for the West Virginia University Extension Service, asked them to develop itineraries that a potential visitor could use to plan a day or weekend in their area for the group’s next meeting.

Norm Schwertfeger, Brooke County WVU Extension agent, said the meeting was one of a series bringing together area CVB leaders and others to plan ways to attract more visitors to the area.

At Wednesday’s meeting they were invited to share attractions and events in their areas. Among them were:

• Janice McFadden, manager of Brooke Hills Park, who noted the park’s golf course and new foot golf course recently opened, while construction of a new swimming pool is under way. She added there also are plans for cabins, a disc golf course and paint ball arena.

Attendees were invited to tour the park after the meeting.

• Chatman Neely, co-owner of the Barn With Inn, who said the farm-based bed and breakfast will be featured in an upcoming public television program on agri-tourism. He added there are plans for a Pittsburgh chef to prepare monthly dinners using locally produced food this summer.

• Britney Farris of Family Roots Farm of Wellsburg said visitors to the Wellsburg farm may pick their own strawberries in May and June.

• Jim Brockman of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor Museum at the Brooke County Library, who said the 75th anniversary of the Bataan Death March will be marked with a program and community march on May 5. He said 107 veterans are expected to attend.

• Donna White of Bethany College’s Mountainside Conference Center, who said the opening of the Disciples of Christ Archive Center near the college has drawn more visitors to the school and the historic Alexander Campbell Mansion.

• Bonnie Burskey of the Top of West Virginia Convention and Visitors Bureau, who said the series of free summer concerts at the Weirton Event Center will return May 26.

• Judy Bratten of Historic Fort Steuben, who spoke of various festivals held there and in the city and the Nutcracker Village, which drew thousands of visitors in November and December.

• Robert Strong of the SMART Centre Market, who noted his and other downtown Wheeling businesses were encouraged to stay open on the first Friday evening of each month and offer something different. Visitors have been entertained by a local band and participated in stargazing using telescopes from his science store.

Strong suggested local businesses try the same thing on their own special dates.

Attendees also heard of free summer concerts held Wednesdays at the Wheeling waterfront, a Fostoria Glass show and sale to be held at the Fostoria Glass Museum in Moundsville in June, a disc golf tournament set for April 22 and 23 at Moundsville’s Grand Vue Park, the upcoming opening of a yoga retreat center at the Palace of Gold, which itself has attracted thousands of visitors outside the Hare Krishna movement; and the Back Home Appalachian Arts and Music Festival held in Wetzel County in June.

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