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Editorial: WV Tourism Commissioner Chelsea Ruby brings work ethic, innovative outlook

From The Inter-Mountain of Elkins:

Tourism is big business in West Virginia, but it could be even more important to the state’s economy. Making that happen is going to require hard work and a creative approach to marketing.

Fortunately, state Tourism Commissioner Chelsea Ruby seems to have just the right work ethic and innovative outlook necessary.

Later this month, the Division of Tourism will reveal a new plan to promote the Mountain State. It will replace a formula that has “outlived its usefulness,”Ruby said this week.

Really successful marketers understand their work must meld new technology with tried-and-true promotion methods. Ruby noted this week that the best way to reach many potential tourists is advertising in printed publications. She is absolutely correct.

However, it also is imperative that new technology, including social media, be employed. Ruby already has demonstrated she understands that, through Twitter campaigns. Her #AlmostHeaven project has had about 15 million impressions, and twice made Twitter’s trending list for the 10 most popular topics worldwide.

Clearly, however, Ruby and her staff have quite a challenge on their hands. Without a world-class website, no state tourism office can be successful — and it appears ours needs much improvement. A legislative auditor’s study indicated the website has just 58 percent of the important features it should offer.

Ruby had an excellent assessment of that: “When I got the website score of 58, I think that’s the lowest score I’ve ever gotten on anything in my life,” she told a reporter.

State legislators should be paying attention to Ruby, and whether her new approach is getting results. Our hunch is that it is, or will in the near future.

Lawmakers’ reaction to that should be to listen carefully when Ruby asks for her office’s funding to be augmented. Good marketing costs money, and if Ruby and her staff have an appealing plan, they ought to be allotted enough funding to make it happen. Attracting more visitors to West Virginia will more than pay for a little additional money for the Division of Tourism.

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