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Editorial: West Virginia needs to increase tourism promotion

From The Herald-Dispatch of Huntington:

West Virginia has many wonderful places to visit and vacation.

But probably most people in the eastern half of the United States know very little about what the state has to offer.

So, if there is a “no-brainer” in Gov. Jim Justice’s proposed budget, increasing the funding for tourism promotion would be it. Justice has recommended taking the annual budget from $6 million to $20 million, and while that might seem like a lot, it is really just getting the state into the game.

The Mountain State has one of the smallest tourism budgets in the nation, and with the proposed increase, the state would be close to the average among states, according to figures from the U.S. Travel Association.

More important, there is every reason to believe that the marketing can be effective and that the state tourism economy has plenty of room to grow.

State Tourism Commissioner Cheslea Ruby says that even with the current budget, the state sees about $8 in economic activity for every $1 it spends. So, ramping up the promotion could have an $160 million impact. Ruby also points to a recent study showing that 86 percent of first-time tourists in West Virginia have returned for a second stay.

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