Train Your Team – Tourism Works

Program Overview

The West Virginia Department of Economic Development and the West Virginia Department of Tourism have joined forces to focus on Train Your Team, which will provide free and low-cost professional development and training opportunities to tourism and hospitality businesses across the state. 

Funded by a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, this initiative for qualifying West Virginia-based tourism industry partners will typically cover up to $2,000 annually per employee in eligible tuition and training costs while funding remains available. 

Helpful Tips for Businesses Seeking Training

Expanded Capacity: Applications for training that will allow eligible tourism businesses to expand their capacity and/or offer new tourism services will be prioritized.

Certifications: Applications for training that will result in new certifications and wage increases will also be prioritized.

Conferences: Fees for conferences and meetings resulting in no new certifications are not likely to receive funding under this program.

Marketing-Related Education: Trainings for marketing are not prioritized at this time, due to the free and low-cost marketing-focused webinars and resources offered by the Department of Tourism. If you need assistance with marketing, please explore our resources in the Partner Portal.

Complete the short eligibility check today to see if the training you are seeking may qualify.

Request Training

Why Investing in the Tourism Workforce Sets Up West Virginians for Success

The timing of this opportunity could not be better for West Virginians. The state recorded its highest-ever traveler spending last year, nearly $5 billion, and the tourism industry is poised for continued job growth.

Plus, tourism often allows for considerable career advancement from entry-level positions, and the training provided through this program will help to jump-start that career advancement for West Virginians. Research shows that nearly a quarter of Americans’ first jobs were in the industry, and the average salary of an American who got their start in tourism is $82,000. In West Virginia specifically, management-level tourism professionals tend to earn around $60,000.

The Bigger Picture – Tourism Works

Train Your Team seeks to upskill the existing industry’s workforce, as one part of a
larger concerted effort. Overall, the Tourism Works program is providing tourism-focused education in West Virginia as early as middle school, creating tourism pathway programs that bridge the gap between high school and college, creating free online training modules, funding workforce training and spreading the word about tourism as a growing industry with many rewarding career paths.

Sources: US Travel Association, WV Higher Education Policy Commission, Dean Runyan 2021

Who Is Eligible?

West Virginia-based tourism industry partners, including: 

  • Destination marketing organizations (Regions or areas containing three or more attractions)
  • Tourism-related businesses, attractions & events, which include:
    • Cultural/historic sites
      • Fairs & festivals
      • Museums
    • Entertainment establishments
      • Casinos
      • Performing arts centers
      • Sporting organizations & venues
      • Vineyards/wineries
      • Craft breweries
      • Distilleries
  • Destination dining
  • Scenic or natural areas
  • Theme or amusement parks
  • Zoos, aquariums, wild animal parks
  • Destination lodging
    • Campgrounds
    • Bed & Breakfasts
    • Vacation rentals
    • Resorts
  • Destination entity/organization that provides recreational activities, including but not limited to, whitewater rafting, skiing and snow activities, mountain biking, hunting and fishing.
  • Destination shopping
  • Government partners 

Please note that final determinations of eligibility for this program will be made at the discretion of the Secretaries of the West Virginia Departments of Tourism and Economic Development. 

Train Your Team: How It Works

STEP ONE: Eligibility Check – Tell us a little about your business and training needs by completing this short form.

STEP TWO: Needs Assessment Meeting – The Department of Economic Development will review your inquiry form and reach out to you, if needed, to schedule a meeting.  If you meet the eligibility requirements, staff will email you a formal application.

STEP THREE: Formal Application – You will apply for the program funding.

  • Up to $2,000 per employee each year*
  • This funding covers the cost of tuition or registration for the training or certification program
  • Travel costs for employees are the responsibility of your business or organization

STEP FOUR: Arranging Training – Once approved, the Department of Economic Development will contract directly with expert trainers, professional and trade associations, and/or higher education to deliver the training as requested. 

In some cases, this will mean developing customized training sessions that meet the needs of specific businesses within tourism and hospitality.

STEP FIVE: Outcomes – You will report back to us about the trainings’ relevance and efficacy for your employees! Businesses may reapply for training funds annually. 

*The exact amount of training costs per employee will vary and will be determined at the discretion of the Secretaries of the West Virginia Departments of Tourism and Economic Development. 

Example Training & Education Programs

Applications for training that will allow eligible tourism businesses to expand their capacity and / or offer new tourism services will be prioritized.

Please note that available trainings are not limited to this list:

  • Certified Guest Service Professional Training 
  • Event Planning Training
  • Project Management for Hospitality 
  • Culinary Training
  • Cake Decorating
  • Kitchen Management
  • Tourism Associate Degree Programs
  • Transportation Training, CDL Training
  • Customer Service Training
  • Leadership/Supervisory Training
  • ServSafe Food Handler
  • ServSafe Manager
  • ServSafe Workplace
  • TIPS Server Certification
  • American Red Cross Training for First Aid
  • American Red Cross Training for CPR 
  • Wilderness First Aid Training
  • Hospitality and Tourism, AAS
  • Hospitality and Tourism, CAS
  • Food Service Management, AAS
  • Food Service Management, CAS
  • Lifeguard Certifications
  • National Ski Patrol Outdoor Emergency Care
  • National Ski Areas Association Online Lift Maintenance Program
  • Ski Lift Repair 
  • Challenge Course Technology Training
  • Web-Development 
  • Hotel Management
  • Travel Agent Academy
  • National Association for Interpretation Training 
  • Parks and Recreation Executive Certification
  • Playground Safety & Inspection Certification
  • Swift Water Rescue Training

Interested in Partnering as a Training Provider for Tourism and Hospitality?

If you have been working in the tourism and hospitality industry and you have knowledge to share with others, you may be interested in contracting with the West Virginia Department of Economic Development to provide trainings. Please contact: David Rogers at for more information.