CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia tourism is making great strides in generating an impact that’s reaching visitors from across the country and around the world.
The Department of Tourism and the Tourism Advisory Council met virtually Tuesday to discuss the advances they’ve made in the numbers of visitor impressions on web, national media placements, and the overall impact on West Virginia tourism promotions.
Tourism Secretary Chelsea Ruby said in the last three months, the state’s direct impact on tourism promotions reached 5 billion for the first time, and an overall impact of over 7 billion.
In addition, she said they have reached over 4.5 billion social media impressions, website page views of up to 56%, and have been seen within over 1,000 placements across major travel publications. Ruby said she promises West Virginia gets in many more of those “It” list publications moving forward.
“In the past couple of years we’ve been on Outside Magazine’s list, Travel and Leisure, Conde Nast, Frommers,” she said. “There are just a few we haven’t been on and we’re just as determined as ever to get on them.”
Ruby said in the fall the tourism department ran 60, 30, and 15 second TV and radio spots sharing the autumnal beauty and adventure the state has to offer.
She the media spots ran both in-state and to out-of-state markets including Washington D.C, Pittsburgh, Columbus, and Baltimore, encouraging tourists there to visit the Mountain State. Ruby added that their advertising is rather unique compared to other state’s tourism advertising in the sense that it reaches those already living here along with those from different states.
“Some states just target their out-of-state markets, but we in West Virginia know that West Virginians love their state and love to travel, so we make sure that we’re continually working to inspire West Virginians,” she said.
Ruby said when the governor and the legislature tripled the tourism marketing budget several years ago, the department was able to expand its market exponentially since then. She said they have saturated the state’s drive market and are now starting to reach the fly markets, as well.
Over the fall, Ruby said they partnered up with West Virginia Yeager International Airport to support promotional advancements regarding the new Breeze Airways flights that are now available, particularly marketing more to tourists from Florida where Breeze’s main flights come to Charleston from.
“We’re looking in places in Florida where people are in highly concentrated areas, where these wide open spaces, the beautiful landscapes, the four seasons are things that would appeal,” she said.
She said they will continue marketing in Florida with emphasis currently in Orlando and Tampa.
The tourism department now plans to run more 60, 30, and 15 second in-state and out-of-state media spots coming into the winter season, promoting the state’s cozy getaways and snow sport and winter recreational opportunities.
Ruby said they also plan to continue utilizing the new conversational-rich digital media advertising they have been using on the web and social media platforms as they have seen a lot of engagements and conversions onto the website since using such ads.
She said, in addition, posting daily videos pertaining to West Virginia scenery and tourism opportunities on social media garnered a lot of engagement on their own, but now the focus is on increasing inspiration to those particularly invested in a trip to the Mountain State.
“Us just showing videos to people does a lot on the inspiration side, but I think we need to make sure that inspiration is going to the right type of people, that it’s going to people in the end, who are going to request information about the state and come here,” Ruby said.
She said West Virginia’s involvement with the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in providing the tree has created another new promotional avenue to reach out-of-state visitors, particularly those in Washington D.C., and they plan to continue to use promotional content related to the national Christmas tree long after the ceremony is over.