By Charles Young, WV News
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WV News) — West Virginia’s strategy of prioritizing spending to market and promoting the state as a tourism destination is continuing to pay off.
Visitors to West Virginia directly spent more than $5 billion in 2022, an all-time tourism annual spending record, which has an overall impact of more then $7 billion throughout the economy, according to a report from Oxford Economics.
West Virginia Tourism Secretary Chelsea Ruby, who headed the state’s tourism office before becoming the state’s first Cabinet-level tourism secretary in 2021, said visitor spending growth in recent years is a direct result of increased funding and the policy changes made in the state since 2017.
“If you look back to when the governor (Gov. Jim Justice) first took office, tourism in this state had been underfunded for years,” she said. “We were simply being out beat by our competitors, and we just couldn’t keep up.”