The Ritz Herald
New River Gorge National Park & Preserve. © Jon Bilous

WVU Extension Webinar Series to Focus on Sustainable Rural Tourism in West Virginia

West Virginia University Extension Service experts can help those communities be equipped with the resources and knowledge to sustain the momentum

Published on January 24, 2022

The Mountain State’s communities have seen elevated interest in tourism staples and a new national park, and along with the COVID-19 pandemic and work-at-home expansion, have experienced more visitors and new residents. West Virginia University Extension Service experts can help those communities be equipped with the resources and knowledge to sustain the momentum.

The “Sustainable Rural Tourism” year-long monthly webinar series is designed to illustrate basic principles and demonstrate how individuals can apply them collaboratively to further enhance the future of tourism in West Virginia. The sessions will cover topics such as destination management vs. marketing; leadership and capacity; using data to make informed decisions; and more.

Doug Arbogast, WVU Extension Service rural tourism specialist and associate professor, notes that now, more than ever, many West Virginia communities have a unique role to play in growing tourism.

“Tourism has always been an important economic driver for the state, but the pandemic has created unprecedented interest in rural tourism that provides unique opportunities for West Virginia’s communities,” Arbogast said. “During the past 10 years, WVU Extension has been working alongside community partners, tourism leaders and others throughout the state to grow tourism using a participatory approach. Through these collaborations, we have accumulated knowledge and lessons learned to share as we work together to grow tourism, drive economic prosperity and address other potential effects to create a long-term plan for tourism.”

The free series, which runs from 11 AM to noon each month, is open to West Virginia residents, community leaders, tourism operators and others interested in the topic. A schedule of topics, along with a registration link, can be found on the Sustainable Tourism webpage. The webinars will be held the last Monday of each month (unless specified otherwise). All participants must register for the educational series.

Staff Writer