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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 Sustainable Tourism 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
  • 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 Attend the Sustainable Tourism Webinars

2024 Sustainable Tourism Webinar Series

January 29, 2024

Evolution of the Pocahontas County CVB

Cara Rose, former Executive Director of the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau will share insight into the evolution of the CVB as it embraced a sustainability and destination management approach and key milestones along their journey.

March 4, 2024

Destination Management Issues and Challenges from the Perspective of the Tucker County CVB.

Jessica Waldo, Executive Director and Brian Sarfino, Marketing Manager, of the Tucker County CVB will give a more comprehensive presentation of destination management issues and challenges from the perspective of the CVB.

March 25, 2024

Connecting the Dots: West Virginia Department of Tourism's Resources and Programs

Ennis Smith, Director of Destination Development at the West Virginia Department of Tourism, will present a snapshot of tourism's economic impact in West Virginia and an overview of the services and resources that the Destination Development team provides for tourism organizations and businesses across the state. These opportunities range from brochure distribution and cooperative advertising offerings to economic development assistance and workforce training. In addition to these resources, Ennis will discuss best practices for making tourism sites more visible online through claiming and updating business listings.

April 29, 2024

WVU Extension’s role in destination management

West Virginia University Extension has been working to improve the lives and livelihoods of the people of West Virginia since 1914. WVU Extension focuses on providing trusted and practical educational programs that improve health, education and prosperity. This webinar will focus on the role of county-based Extension agents in supporting sustainable destination management. Join us to learn more about our local involvement in improving the social, environmental, and economic condition of our communities through tourism.

May 20, 2024

No Webinar for May

June 24, 2024


Kids explore rural tourism as tourists in the forest at summer camp, surrounded by tall green trees

2022 Sustainable Tourism Webinars

181 West Virginians participated in our free 2022 webinar series. Watch the videos again and get inspired to start with rural tourism in your local area.

Access the 2022 videos

Barn on farm.

2023 Sustainable Tourism Webinars

133 West Virginians participated in our free 2023 webinar series. Watch the videos again and get inspired to start with rural tourism in your local area.


Access the 2023 videos