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Sustainable Tourism

With an influx of visitors and residents to the Mountain State, planning for long-term, sustainable tourism opportunities is critical for our communities. Join our tourism experts each month for a free webinar series.

Sustainable Tourism Webinar Series Dates & Details

About WVU Extension's 2022 Webinar Series

According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, sustainable tourism “takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, and environment and host communities.”

West Virginia is one of the most rural states in the country. According to Dean Runyan Associates, West Virginia’s $4.6 billion in travel-generated spending is a vital part of the state and local economies. In some areas of the state, it is one of the primary sources of earnings and employment. UNWTO designated 2020 as the Year of Tourism and Rural Development stating that the sustainability of tourism in rural areas will only be successful if a comprehensive, inclusive planning strategy is adopted and implemented based on a multi-action and multi-stakeholder participatory approach.

Through partnerships and collaboration, West Virginia University Extension has been working to build and enhance West Virginia tourism opportunities. Our Extension experts developed the Sustainable Rural Tourism webinar series to help West Virginians learn about sustainable rural tourism development using interactive and engaging discussions. Drawing from lessons learned and programs implemented during the past 10 years, these sessions are designed to illustrate basic principles and demonstrate how individuals can apply them collaboratively to further enhance the future of tourism in West Virginia.

UNWTO has recognized that in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of tourism in rural development is more relevant than ever. Tourism in rural communities offers important opportunities for recovery from the pandemic as tourists look for less populated destinations and open-air experiences and activities.

This program is designed to help tourism stakeholders in West Virginia harness these opportunities using a sustainable tourism approach focusing on topics such as:

  • Breaking down the principles of sustainable tourism and how to apply them
  • Building capacity through participatory approaches
  • Destination management vs. marketing
  • Using data to make informed decisions
  • Local and regional planning and action
  • Funding tourism action plans
  • Evaluating success

Our series covers the basics needed to understand and implement sustainable tourism development. Industry speakers will help to illustrate key concepts and draw on examples from across the state while engaging participants in interactive discussions.

Tourism can change the face of communities in many ways. West Virginia has tremendous potential to harness the positive outcomes of tourism and to avoid negative impacts as the tourism industry continues to grow. Join us in learning more about sustainable tourism while gaining resources you can use to implement these principles in your own community.

Register to Access the Sustainable Tourism Webinars

Sustainable Rural Tourism in West Virginia is a free, yearlong series with a new webinar every month at 11 a.m. See below for the full schedule. Recordings will be available afterward for those not able to attend. 

2022 Webinar Series Details

January 31, 11 a.m.

Intro to Sustainable Rural Tourism Development

This session will explore the principles of sustainable tourism and rural tourism focusing on applications in West Virginia.

Voices of Change Videos

The Voices of Change video series profiled tourism leaders in Elkins, Berkeley Springs, Tucker County, and Fayetteville, West Virginia in 2015-16 to better understand how they managed tourism growth and successfully positioned themselves as destinations built on outdoor recreation and Appalachia’s unique history and traditional culture based on 5 core values for community-based tourism. Webinar participants are encouraged to watch the Tucker County and Fayetteville videos (and the other two if you have time) prior to viewing the second webinar as guest speakers will highlight current opportunities and challenges as it relates to issues discussed in the Voices of Change series.

February 28, 11 a.m.

Sustainable Rural Tourism & West Virginia: Lessons Learned

The session will introduce community tourism values using the “Voices of Change” case study video series to identify successes and challenges of tourism development in West Virginia communities.

March 28, 11 a.m.

Marketing vs. Management

In this session, participants will compare and contrast a destination management approach versus a destination marketing approach. Participants also will identify key components of a sustainable destination management strategy.

April 25, 11 a.m.

What is a Destination Management Organization?

This session will focus on the difference between a destination management organization and a destination marketing organization.

May 23, 11 a.m.

The Role of Extension and Non-traditional Stakeholders

This session will identify the role of non-traditional stakeholders, including Extension agents and others, who can play a role in implementing a destination management strategy.

June 27, 11 a.m.

Leadership and Capacity

The session will explore leadership roles and capacity necessary for implementing a destination management strategy.

July 25, 11 a.m.
Making Informed Decisions – Community Assessments & Inventory of Attractions & Services

In this session, participants will learn techniques for conducting a community assessment process and inventory of tourism attractions and services to identify tourism strengths, weaknesses and opportunities.

August 29, 11 a.m.
Making Informed Decisions – Understanding Secondary Data and Collecting and Interpreting Primary Data

This session will help participants understand how to use secondary data to measure the impacts of tourism and how to use data to identify trends over time.

September 26, 11 a.m.
Product Development: Participatory Planning and Action

This session will introduce techniques for participatory tourism planning to develop a sustainable tourism action plan and provide examples of success in turning those plans into action.

October 31, 11 a.m.
Product Development: Tourism Master Plan

This session will explore various examples of destination strategic plans including tourism related components of comprehensive plans and how to develop a destination management plan.

November 28, 11 a.m.

Product Development: Funding Tourism Development

The session will provide examples of funding opportunities for tourism development and a funder’s perspective on how to develop high-quality proposals and report on accomplishments.

December 19, 11 a.m.

Sustainable Rural Tourism: Implementing & Evaluating a Destination Management Plan

This session will provide examples of how to successfully implement and evaluate a sustainable tourism management plan and outline strategies for ongoing success.

2022 Sustainable Tourism Webinar Series