State’s tourism industry growing

CHARLES TOWN — The state’s tourism office spends more than $1.4 million on advertising and the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races offers a big chunk of that amount in matching funds.

The casino, with its contribution of $381,842.18, made through the state’s Matching Advertising Partnership Program, is just one of nine tourism industry businesses to match the Division of Tourism’s advertising funding to attract visitors to the state, according to a report filed by the tourism office.

The amount speaks to the growing influence of tourism dollars to West Virginia, said U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, during a recent three-day conference in Shepherdstown that was attended by more than 200 people with interests in the state’s tourism industry.

The goal of that meeting was to get tourism-related businesses working with each other to create a full service menu of activities from one end of the state to another, according to Betty Carver, the state tourism director.

“That is really one of the diamonds about the West Virginia industry is that we offer all levels with all activities,” Carver said following the meeting.

Carver said doing that means one member of the family can take a rafting trip down the Gauley River while another goes shopping and others can see a museum or concert.

The ultimate goal of such an effort is to increase awareness of what the state has to offer and increase visitation, whether it be through the acquisition of new customers or the retention of existing customers.

Rockefeller said studies show that one of every nine Americans is employed in support of tourism.

“In West Virginia, the industry accounts for more than 44,000 jobs and $4 billion a year in consumer spending,” Rockefeller said.

The matching advertising program allows tourism businesses to match their advertising dollars through partnerships with each other as well as with the state’s office.

Matches are based on the budgets of the applicants with their partners combined, along with the amount of funding available.

Other recipients include the Martinsburg/Berkeley County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Mountaineer Casino Racetrack and Resort in Wheeling, American Mountain Theater and Country Roads Cabins.

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