CHARLESTON – West Virginia travel leaders gather at the State Capitol to highlight the social and economic impact of tourism.
Two floors of the Capitol rotunda were filled with more than 70 vendors from across the state. They were looking to network and bring awareness to their own neck of the woods.
According to the Commerce Department, tourism is close to a $5 billion industry, creating 44,000 jobs in West Virginia. Part of that comes from Mercer and Fayette Counties, home of cultural exhibits and the Bridge Walk across New River Gorge.
Director of Mercer Co. Visitors Center, Marie Blackwell says there is plenty to offer in Southern West Virginia,
“Culture, performing art venues, outdoor recreation - lots of family fun and interesting facts and history.”
Bridge Walk manager Lisa Keffer hopes to see more residents taking advantage of the scenery in Fayette County.
“Take tours on the catwalk, which is right underneath the New River Gorge Bridge. You're walking and taking in the beauty of the gorge; it's a very calming experience.”
Officials say West Virginia tourism generates nearly $600 million dollars in tax revenue.