WVPA Staff Report
Calling on the tourism professionals attending the 8th Annual West Virginia Hospitality University to be “players” in making the state’s tourism industry more successful, Gov. Jim Justice said he is “passionate” about building the tourism industry in West Virginia and is with them in the effort.
Noting his experience with operating The Greenbrier in White Sulfur Springs, Justice said he now wants to serve as a “coach” and has the experience and vision to know the value of tourism.
“No one will support your industry more than me. No one will believe in it more than me. … Tourism is absolutely a real opportunity within this state, and we (the Justice administration) believe it enough now to put a little bit of our money where our mouth is,” Justice said, adding tourism “has so much to bring to this state.”
Bringing out a little news of his own, Justice said state tourism officials will soon unveil a new advertising slogan for the state; however, he provided no details. Justice said he is asking the West Virginia Legislature for $20 million for a tourism marketing budget because the return on investment on tourism advertising is $8 for every $1 invested.
The 2017 Roads to Prosperity bond program to improve West Virginia’s roads – including those to the state’s tourism facilities – and this year’s $20 million budget request are “tools” to help the “players” in the tourism industry succeed.
“You need to be players and bring real ideas to the Legislators and me,” Justice said, “and put those ideas into motion …, working on opportunities that will make West Virginia greater.”
“You have to have the determination … when you hit a walk not to just lay down and let that be it,” he said.
“You are going to show the world just how great West Virginia is,” Justice said, “I love you for it because I think your industry has so much to bring to this state.”
The Governor joined with West Virginia Tourism Commissioner Chelsea Ruby and tourism industry leaders including Chris Richards, president of WVHTA; Frank Jorgensen, chairman of WVHTA; and Carol Fulks, executive director of the WVHTA, in welcoming the tourism professionals who are gathered at The Greenbrier through Monday afternoon for three days of meetings, educational seminars, training, recognition and awards.
Those attending heard legislative updates and discussed tourism issues with legislator leaders including Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson; Sen. Charlie Trump, R-Morgan; Sen. Mark Maynard, R-Wayne; and Delegates Daryl Cowles, R-Morgan; Gary Howell, R-Mineral; and Eric Nelson, R-Kanawha.
Hospitality University concluded Jan. 28 with educational seminars and an awards ceremony.