Tourism continues to grow

The tourism industry in West Virginia continues to grow, according to local and state officials, and we need to continue finding ways to capitalize on that.

Locally, the Top of West Virginia Convention and Visitors Bureau is tasked with promoting Hancock and Brooke counties in the hopes of drawing new visitors to our area.

CVB Director Dan Greathouse recently presented the agency’s annual report to the Hancock County Commission, saying tourism is up in the Ohio Valley. He cited increased hotel taxes and growing attendance at local summer concerts and festivals.

It is great that hotel taxes were up in Hancock County by $2,000, and increased by 10 to 15 percent in Weirton. That, at least, shows us the hotels in our area are being used.

We would be interested to see what those staying in the hotels are doing while here. What is attracting them to our region? Are they visiting family, here for work, or are they true tourists who are coming to attend our festivals, check out our businesses and make use of the local amenities?

Across West Virginia, state tourism officials say, hotel stays have increased 10.7 percent, travel guide requests are up 36 percent, website views have grown by 91 percent and unique visitors are 58 percent higher.

The tourism industry is said to bring in more than $4 billion a year to the state. With proper marketing and the right attractions to draw people here, it can have a tremendous impact on our state and local economies.

That means increased hotel stays, more money spent at our restaurants and other businesses and, hopefully, more people learning about what the Mountain State has to offer.