Area CVBs excited over 2013 outlook
Local Convention and Visitors Bureaus report a positive 2012 for tourism in the area as they look forward to what 2013 will bring.
Unlike the mild winter of 2011-2012, so far the winter of 2013 has provided a helpful amount of snowfall and cold temperatures to allow the ski areas in Tucker County to receive a large amount of downhill and cross-country skiers.
- Bill Smith, executive director of the Tucker County CVB, said, “We started 2012 with a lackluster ski season” but so far “we’ve had wonderful winter weather to lead into 2013.”
Smith said having snow and good weather during holiday weekends is imperative to ski areas, including Timberline Resort, Canaan Valley Resort and White Grass Ski Touring Center, in order to meet the needs of many visitors that come to Tucker County with the hopes to ski.
“Hopefully conditions will remain strong,” Smith said.
Other local CVBs including Randolph County’s CVB, Upshur County’s CVB and Philippi’s CVB are less dependent on wintery weather to attract tourists; instead they use the winter season to make plans for tourism in the spring, summer and fall.
- Executive Director Brenda Pritt of the Randolph County CVB said summer is the prime season for tourism in Randolph. Pritt was admittedly worried that the high gas prices of 2012 would discourage tourists from visiting Randolph County, but it did not seem to have that effect.
“In 2012 Randolph County did exceptionally well,” she said. “We’re pretty excited that the year ended so well.”
Pritt reported that individual travel and group travel were up in Randolph County, as was the number of visitors to the CVB’s website and to its Facebook account.
Pritt credited the two theaters in the county, the American Mountain Theater and the Gandy Dancer Theatre, as well as the Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad for attracting large amounts of visitors to Randolph County.
“Ten years ago we weren’t a destination and now we are,” Pritt said.
- Laura Meadows, executive director of the Upshur County CVB, said her office is working to put Upshur County on the tourism map as well. Since its establishment in 2010, the Upshur CVB has made great strides in 2012 to advertise the county to regional markets.
“In 2012 we distributed up to 20,000 travel guides to welcome centers and directly to individuals requesting more information,” Meadows said.
“2012 was interesting for us. It’s been a really big learning process,” Meadows said. “It’s amazing to see the results.”
- President of the Philippi CVB Annette Fetty Santilli reported great strides since the CVB established a website in 2011. To spread the word about Philippi, the CVB participated in the tourism day at the state capitol and the organizational fairs at Alderson-Broaddus College and was also a sponsor of the Purple Power night in Charleston for the West Virginia Power baseball team to help raise awareness for pancreatic cancer in 2012.
With a positive 2012 under their belts, all four CVBs are looking forward to what 2013 will bring.
“2013 is just chockfull of good stuff (for Tucker County),” Smith said.
Results of the state’s $30 million investment into improvements for Canaan Valley State Park will actually be seen in 2013. Canaan Valley Resort’s tube park will open Jan. 11 and by late summer the brand new 168 continental-size hotel rooms at the resort should be open for use.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve had such capital improvements,” Smith said.
Smith is also excited that “Thomas is really showing a cool revitalization.”
He said new businesses like TipTop, a coffee shop and bar, and Gargantuan Emporium are helping to bring a renewed enthusiasm to the town.
Smith also anticipates a great influx of traffic to Tucker County when U.S. Route 48 (Corridor H) reaches Davis, which is expected to occur in 2013. The route will greatly decrease the amount of time it takes travelers from the Washington D.C. area to reach Davis.
“For the most part it’s a reliable and safe route of transportation for our visitors,” but it’s definitely “going to bring change,” Smith said.
Pritt is also expecting great change for Randolph County when Corridor H is completed. She said in order to make visiting the area easier, the Randolph County CVB will be launching a mobile application for smart phones and tablets in 2013.
“West Virginia has a lot of undiscovered territory,” and “our mission is to bring tourists in here,” Pritt said.
She is excited that the 150th anniversary of the Civil War will be celebrated in 2013 in historical towns across the state, such as Beverly. Pritt also looks forward to a 90-mile stretch of railroad tracks being reconstructed and revitalized to connect Elkins to Cass.
“That will open us up to a lot of traffic,” Pritt said.
The Randolph County CVB plans to update the content and design of its website as does the Upshur County CVB.
Meadows said the Upshur CVB’s website will receive improvements with the incorporation of animations. The CVB will also be moving to a new location on Main Street in Buckhannon in 2013.
Meadows said the new location will have a gallery-type feel and she is anticipating a significant increase in foot traffic at the new location.
“It’s going to be fantastic,” Meadows said.
Regarding the Philippi CVB, Santilli said, “We’re hoping to replace all of the historical markers through downtown Philippi (in 2013).”
The Philippi CVB also hopes to make improvements to technology by getting a mobile application to provide self-guided walking tours through downtown Philippi.
“We’re getting the word out about what we have to offer,” Santilli said.
To see what the local CVBs have to offer, check out Randolph County’s site at randolphcountywv.com, Tucker County’s site at canaanvalley.org, Upshur County’s site at visitbuckhannon.org and Philippi’s site at visitphilippiwv.org.