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Tourism study shows W.Va. strengths, weaknesses

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia’s image as a tourism destination gets high marks for outdoor recreation opportunities, scenery and affordability, but rates low as being exciting, unique, for having must-see destinations or luxurious accommodations and for entertainment and nightlife options, a survey commissioned by the state Division of Tourism found.

In fact, in most key categories for would-be visitors, West Virginia ranks fifth among neighboring states — ahead of only Ohio, the Longwoods International survey found.

Unfortunately, the categories where West Virginia is strong are low on the list of priorities for people selecting vacation destinations, tourism research director Joe Black told the state Tourism Commission Thursday.

“The problem is, these are so far down [on the list], that they’ve already decided, ‘I’m going here,’ ” Black said.

West Virginia’s image scores much higher in all categories among those surveyed who had actually recently visited the state.

However, there was not a similar uptick for those shown state tourism ads prior to the survey — ads that focus on already perceived strengths of outdoor activities and scenic beauty.

Black said that’s a strong indicator that the current ad campaign has reached a point of diminishing returns…

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