Morgantown, W.Va. — West Virginia’s scenic highways, mountain vistas and outdoor recreation have long provided tourism opportunities for the state. But the pandemic, coupled with remote work options and a new national park, has elevated the interest from visitors and residents to the Mountain State. With that enhanced interest comes opportunities and the need for an enhanced emphasis in helping to ensure our communities are equipped with resources and knowledge to sustain those tourism opportunities long term.
To help community members, tourism operators and other leaders better understand the principles of sustainable rural tourism and discuss application opportunities in West Virginia, West Virginia University Extension experts will host a yearlong monthly webinar series to provide participants with knowledge and resources to incorporate sustainable tourism principles into their communities throughout the state.
The “Sustainable Rural Tourism” webinar series is designed to illustrate basic principles and demonstrate how individuals can apply them collaboratively to further enhance the future of tourism in West Virginia. The sessions will cover topics such as destination management vs. marketing; leadership and capacity; using data to make informed decisions; and more.
Doug Arbogast, WVU Extension rural tourism specialist and associate professor, notes that now, more than ever, many West Virginia communities have a unique role to play in growing tourism.
“Tourism has always been an important economic driver for the state, but the pandemic has created unprecedented interest in rural tourism that provides unique opportunities for West Virginia’s communities,” Arbogast said. “During the past 10 years, WVU Extension has been working alongside community partners, tourism leaders and others throughout the state to grow tourism using a participatory approach. Through these collaborations, we have accumulated knowledge and lessons learned to share as we work together to grow tourism, drive economic prosperity and address other potential effects to create a long-term plan for tourism.”
The free series, which runs from 11 a.m. to noon each month, is open to West Virginia residents, community leaders, tourism operators and others interested in the topic. A schedule of topics, along with a registration link, can be found on the Sustainable Tourism webpage. The webinars will be held the last Monday of each month (unless specified otherwise). All participants must register for the educational series.
To learn more about WVU Extension programs, visit extension.wvu.edu or contact your local WVU Extension office. Keep up with the latest in WVU Extension news on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by following @WVUExtension.