As National Travel and Tourism Week is celebrated across the country, the Greenbrier Valley is gearing up for a full season

As National Travel and Tourism Week is celebrated across the country, the Greenbrier Valley is gearing up for a full season

By Sarah Mansheim

National Travel and Tourism Week begins on Saturday, May 2, and the industry in West Virginia has even more reason to celebrate this year. Thanks to a shift in funding, $4.7 million is available for the West Virginia travel industry to promote the state around all over the country.

Here in the Greenbrier Valley, that means even more visibility on a national level. According to Kara Dense, executive director of the Greenbrier County Convention and Visitors Bureau, enhanced marketing reach on the state level trickles down to the Greenbrier Valley because the area is known to be one of the best spots in the state to visit.

While advertising dollars are spent heavily at the state level, local visitors centers are also able to advertise thanks to tax dollars and grant funding, and Dense explains the visitors center is advertising the Greenbrier Valley in its own right, too. Just don’t expect to see any of it in the local papers. Eighty-five percent of the local visitors bureau advertising is online, with advertising funds spent on such national online publications and websites as the Washington Post website and Pandora radio.

“We really focus on Charleston, Richmond, Roanoke and Washington, DC,” said Dense. “We know where our visitors are coming from, and we’re targeting them.”

The recent Lewisburg Chocolate Festival has just kicked off the tourism season, and the festival calendar is full through October. May brings the Dandelion Festival in White Sulphur Springs along with the Run for the Wall in White Sulphur and Rainelle; June brings the Ronceverte River Festival and then in July, Greenbrier County will be packed with out-of-towners in for The Greenbrier Classic, a massive RV rally at the State Fairgrounds and the New Orleans Saints training camp at The Greenbrier. Of course, August means the State Fair of West Virginia, September brings the D.A.R.E. to Cruz car show to downtown Lewisburg, and then comes October, and Taste of our Towns. Dense laughs, because, of course, next comes the holiday season, which, thanks to the downtown Lewisburg shopping district, is also a very busy time for tourism activities. Really, she says, January and February are the only quiet months for the visitors center.

In celebration of National Travel and Tourism Week, the Greenbrier County Convention and Visitors Bureau will hold the Best of the Greenbrier Valley awards reception on Thursday, May 7, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the visitors center.

Awards will be given to the Best of the Greenbrier Valley winners, the 2015 Friend of Tourism and the 2015 Hospitality Superstar.

Dense says the event is a thank-you to all of the downtown Lewisburg merchants, who she says are one of the main drivers of tourism in Greenbrier County. “Without them, we wouldn’t be here.”

During the awards reception, the Greenbrier Valley Visitors Bureau will also honor former Congressman Nick Rahall, who was instrumental in promoting tourism and in securing grant funding for the visitors center, which opened in downtown Lewisburg in 2010.

An “Open” sign hangs in front of Bella, the Corner Gourmet, a downtown Lewisburg shop that is celebrating five years in business this month. The Lewisburg Shopping District draws tourists from all over the region and is a large driver of local tourism.  (Photo courtesy of Tamera Pence)
An “Open” sign hangs in front of Bella, the Corner Gourmet, a downtown Lewisburg shop that is celebrating five years in business this month. The Lewisburg Shopping District draws tourists from all over the region and is a large driver of local tourism.
(Photo courtesy of Tamera Pence)

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