Tourism Day at the Legislature welcomes hundreds of industry members to State Capitol
Annual event celebrating record economic impact and state tourism successes
CHARLESTON, WV –– The West Virginia Capitol was filled with enthusiastic travel and tourism industry partners from across the state today as they gathered together to celebrate the industry’s continued success in West Virginia. Tourism’s economic impact is the highest in the state’s history with total economic impact now surpassing $7 billion annually.
“When I took office, I knew we had to invest in tourism because our story was just too good to keep to ourselves,” Gov. Justice said. “And look what’s happened! $7 billion in tourism impact, booming communities, thriving industries, and worldwide recognition. It’s all proof beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was a wise investment that will pay dividends for decades to come. Join me in thanking all our Tourism professionals for continuing to make West Virginia ‘Almost Heaven'”
West Virginia’s tourism industry has seen dramatic growth since Gov. Justice took office in 2017. Visitor spending has grown more than 30%—or more than $1 billion a year—since 2016, despite a global pandemic.
Traveler spending in West Virginia contributes significantly to the state’s economy. Food and beverage spending topped $1.4 billion in 2022. Lodging spending surpassed $800 million for the first time ever, led by a 275% increase in short-term rental revenue since 2019.
“A big part of our industry’s success can be credited to the incredible support from Governor Justice and the West Virginia Legislature,” said West Virginia Tourism Secretary Chelsea Ruby. “That support coupled with partners who champion our great state, new economic development investments along with national media recognition, has brought West Virginia to the next level. We are looking forward to continuing the momentum in 2024 and sharing Almost Heaven with the world.”
The tourism industry supports more than 59,000 West Virginia jobs, one out of every 16 in the state. Those jobs account for nearly $2 billion in annual income.
In 2023 the Department of Tourism worked on a handful of exciting initiatives–– the West Virginia Culinary Trail, expansion of the West Virginia Waterfall Trail, and brand partnerships with reputable companies such as AllTrails and VRBO, to name a few. Each program highlights different aspects of the Mountain State and what makes it Almost Heaven.
With one of the largest celebrations in recent history with partners from all nine travel regions under the Dome meeting with legislators.
During Tourism Day at the Legislature, the Department enlisted the help of a few of the inaugural class of Chef Ambassadors to provide regional treats. Students from both the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf & the Blind and Nicholas County Career and Technical Center served pastries and West Virginia-roasted coffee to highlight their workforce training programs.
To access photos from Tourism Day 2024, click here.
About West Virginia Department of Tourism
The West Virginia Department of Tourism promotes West Virginia as a leading four-season travel destination and top state to live, work and retire.
Known as the Mountain State, West Virginia is one of the most scenic states in the United States and home to thousands of acres of parks and public lands, including America’s newest national park and 45 state parks and forests. In addition to its majestic mountains and rolling hills, West Virginia is full of rich historic sites, enchanting art galleries, charming towns and an immense sense of belonging found only in its heaven-like landscapes.
For more information about West Virginia, visit WVtourism.com and start planning your trip today.
For public relations assistance, please contact Lauren Hough at Lauren.Hough@wv.gov.
This post was last updated on January 23, 2024