OAK HILL – Times are changing and the economy is in flux, but summer time should mean away time. How can you plan your get-away while pinching pennies?
It's no secret that tourism is a thriving industry in West Virginia. While coal mining jobs continue to decline, as they have for the last 30 years, tourist destinations in the Mountain State have soared to new heights.
And it's easy to attract out-of-state visitors to explore the wild and wonderful. But are locals taking advantage?
“I think West Virginia is very untapped when it comes to locals,” says AAA Travel Agent, Crissy Gray, “I think we don't take advantage of everything that's in our backyard.”
There’s so much to see and so much to do right here in the wild and wonderful.
New River Gorge Visitors Center director Sharon Cruikshank mentions just how easy it is. “It's a great way to stay at home, have your vacation here, and relax. You don't have to drive very far.”
Rising oil prices are a big reason why people are thinking local, says Visit Southern West Virginia CEO Doug Maddy, “It's not a new phenenoma to us, but the nation has kind of got wrapped up in in the staycations about 5 years ago when gas prices shot up, and people just really couldn't afford to drive 8 hours to Disney World.”
Affordable is the key word.
“I think the prices in West Virginia as well as in the New River Gorge region are comparable to those that you would pay, say if you wanted to go on a cruise or go to the beach,” says Cruikshank.
Comparable? That's being generous.
“Average trip to Disney World, for like a family of 4, you're looking at like 3 to 4 thousand dollars,” says Gray, “That's traveling by car. If you do it by air, you're looking at anywhere from 4 to 6 thousand dollars depending on where you fly from.”
Four, five, or six thousand dollars! You could feed that same family for half a year with that money.
Planning affordable vacations isn't a backup plan for Southern West Virginia. They've been focusing on visitors and enticing locals for years.
“That really helps West Virginia a lot, because we're so geographically centrally located to the population base. So it really helps us a lot for people to make those short trips,” adds Maddy.
And there's even more to consider than just ticket prices and hotel rooms when planning your summer road trip, says Gray.
“Even when it comes down to gas prices, you know where is the best gas deal to get your gas when you're traveling?”
Around trip visit to Florida could cost you upwards of $500 in fuel alone...
“Price point,” says Cruikshank, “It's a great deal to be in West Virginia.”
So just imagine what you could do with a tank of gas in Wild and Wonderful West Virginia.