Promoting tourism within West Virginia

The following editorial appeared in The Journal, Martinsburg, on Wed., Aug. 26:

Some in the Internet Age view printing presses as nothing more than quaint antiques. Websites and social media campaigns are where it’s at in marketing, they insist.

Fortunately, West Virginia Division of Tourism officials are not falling for that line. They are sticking with the “Wild Wonderful West Virginia” magazine-style travel guide as their key tool for marketing the state to tourists.

And guess what? Potential visitors and, no doubt, many Mountain State residents, can’t get enough of the guide. Already, the Division of Tourism has distributed 450,000 of the magazines. Just to keep up with demand, another 50,000 are being printed.

“It reinforces that people still want a touching, feeling piece to plan a vacation or travel with. They want to see the photos or circle something. They want to be able to rip a page out,” Tourism Commissioner Amy Goodwin told a reporter.

Indeed they do. Websites, social media postings, radio and television advertising can be effective – but all they can do is whet appetites to learn more about us and to help plan a visit here. “Wild Wonderful West Virginia” is the heart of the tourism marketing campaign.

If Goodwin has her way, the guide will become even better. She wants “a more substantial piece.”

Good. Appropriate resources – people who know how to use the printed page to inform and excite – should be dedicated to revamping the guide. State officials should not skimp on money for design and, within reason, for production of the magazine.

Tourism is a very important industry in the Mountain State, especially here in the Eastern Panhandle. As West Virginians are being urged to diversify our economy, it offers the single best, most realistic option, for doing so.

It makes sense, then, to give potential visitors — and, again, West Virginians who may find “stay-cationing” in our own backyard to be a great idea – what they want: a thick, beautiful travel guide making it clear there’s a good reason why so many people view our state as “Almost Heaven.”


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