CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) – Gov. Jim Justice announced today that West Virginia’s tourism industry grew in 2017 for the first time since 2012.
The finding comes in annual economic impact research released this morning. The research shows that traveler spending in West Virginia grew at a rate 30 percent above the national rate in 2017. The increase reversed a four-year decline in which travel-generated spending fell more than $600 million.
“This is a landmark day for our tourism industry and our economy as a whole,” said Gov. Jim Justice. “When I took office, I knew we had to do something to get back on the right track in tourism, and that’s exactly what we’ve done. Tourism needs to be a cornerstone of our economy, and it’s great to see it growing again.”
From 2012 through 2016, travel-generated spending in West Virginia dropped more than 14 percent. In 2017, by contrast, spending grew 3.9 percent—30 percent higher than the national growth rate of 3.0 percent. Preliminary data indicates that West Virginia’s tourism growth in 2018 may be even stronger than last year.
“The Governor’s vision for tourism is already paying dividends,” said Tourism Commissioner Chelsea Ruby. “With our state’s natural beauty and abundance of activities, tourism should be a growth industry—and last year, it finally was. Under the Governor’s direction, we’re looking forward to more progress in 2018.”
The Governor delivered the good news to a group of more than 200 tourism-industry professionals gathered for the 2018 Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Morgantown. The Conference, which began yesterday, offers training and professional development for hoteliers, restaurateurs, attractions, and CVBs from around the state.
The research presented was prepared by Dean Runyan and Associates, a leading national firm for tourism economic research. Runyan economists have studied the impact of West Virginia’s tourism industry since 2000.