New hire to promote local tourism

Gainer- Landavere

ELKINS — A longtime Elkins resident has accepted a position that will allow her to work toward increasing tourism to all areas of Randolph County.

Taira Gainer-Landavere recently was named as the director of marketing for Elkins-Randolph County Tourism CVB, a position that serves as a branch of the Elkins Depot Welcome Center.

“I was born and raised in Elkins and I’ve been pursuing a degree for my master’s in parks, recreation, tourism and sport management at North Carolina State,” Gainer-Landavere said regarding why she applied for the position. “I came back in October as an AmeriCorps member, and through this position I have been able to promote Elkins Main Street through their marketing. I then applied for this job, and I am excited to promote all of Randolph County and surrounding areas because it’s been my backyard forever, since I was a little kid.”

Gainer-Landavere said there are already several projects she is looking into to generate tourism for the area.

“We are working together with the United States Forest Service,” she said. “The goal is to promote the Monongahela National Forest in the different towns and connect them to one another so visitors can go from one town to the other town to the other town and know what we all provide.”

Anne Beardslee, Elkins Depot Welcome Center executive director, added this collaboration will be able to emphasize recreation opportunities in the region.

“This is kind of a national movement, but what is happening is a lot of people are thinking to use the National Forest for recreational purposes, and they want to emphasize that is a major reason for the forest to exist. They are looking at things like what kind of people do you need in your community to do that. Do we need fishing guides? Do we need an outdoor shop?” Beardslee said. “Basically, helping the county plan to find out what would be useful to increase recreation.”

Gainer-Landavere said she believes the project will not only increase visitors to the area but also locals and businesses.

She added there are other projects in the works that will include a number of other agencies and organizations across the county.

“There are a lot of plans that are very exciting, and we are partnering with a lot of people and incoming groups to the area,” Gainer-Landavere said.

As an AmeriCorps member with Main Street, Gainer-Landavere helped spearhead a number of projects, many of them helping to increase the group’s social media presence.

“When I served for Elkins Main Street I basically helped redo their website, helped promote their social media, created an Instagram account for them, and also helped with the Heritage Quilt Trail panels being installed downtown,” Gainer-Landavere said. “Honestly, anything digital is what I did with Main Street.”

Beardslee said she believes members of the selection committee felt Gainer-Landavere was a good fit for the position.

“I think for the selection committee, one of the most important things Taira brought to this position was her background in design for her undergraduate degree and her study of tourism in her master’s degree,” Beardslee said. “That combined with the portfolio she had created with the work she had already done for Main Street was something we felt was a good match.”

Gainer-Landavere officially started full-time in the position on May 7, and she did do some part-time work for roughly a month prior to that.

Beardslee added the position is a full-time marketing position, which was established when the Randolph County Commission unanimously voted to split the first 50 percent of hotel/motel tax revenue equally between the Elkins Depot Welcome Center and Randolph County Convention and Visitors Bureau. The second 50 percent of hotel/motel tax revenue received by the county is used at the discretion of commissioners.

Although she will not be working in the Elkins Depot Welcome Center, she is a branch of that organization.

“It is a full-time position that is exclusively designated to the marketing of Randolph County,” Beardslee said. “She is paid out of the hotel/motel tax revenue.”

Gainer-Landavere’s office will be based out of the Randolph County Development Authority, located on 11th Street in Elkins, which will allow her to work closely with several other county organizations.

“She is located at the Development Authority. That is where her office is located,” Beardslee said. “The choice of putting her where we put her was that she will have constant contact with the Elkins-Randolph County Chamber of Commerce, which is located in that building, and the Randolph County Development Authority, so the three groups can work collaboratively, which is really good for all of them. I begged for them to find a spot for her because we felt that was the best place. Her sitting in an office alone does no good. We want her where she is visible and people will have the most access to her.”

The selection committee for the position consisted of Beardslee and members of the Elkins Depot Welcome Center board of directors.