Tourism marketing paying off for West Viginia

CHARLESTON - A recent report found that West Virginia's current branding and marketing campaign has significantly increased the positive image of West Virginia, while also doubling the return on investment in the campaign over the past year.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin applauded Wild, Wonderful West Virginia for a report by Longwoods International that measured the impact of current marketing and advertising efforts.

"Research shows that tourism is the fourth-largest industry in the state, bringing with it $4.5 billion in travel spending and tens of thousands of jobs," Tomblin said. "Our investment in tourism last year not only helped to make these areas of growth possible, but we also have created tremendous momentum.

"While we have a lot to be proud of, there's still work to be done as we collaborate with our tourism industry partners to make Wild, Wonderful West Virginia the premier tourism destination."

In 2014, Wild, Wonderful West Virginia (the Division of Tourism) conducted a study to measure the effectiveness of past campaigns. The report found that in 2014 the travel and tourism industry in West Virginia returned in state taxes $7 for every $1 spent on advertising and marketing. The 2016 report shows substantial growth, with a 14-to-1 return on investment.

The report also indicates West Virginia is closing the competitive gap on the impact and awareness of the image of the state compared to surrounding states. In addition, total visitor spending has increased from $96 per dollar spent on advertising in 2014 to $193 in 2016.

The report highlights how the impact of advertising awareness and visitation creates a "halo effect" that raises West Virginia's image on key economic measures - most notably as a good place to live, start a career, start a business, to retire and to attend college.

"This new report shows me strategic planning and aggressive tracking pays off, and robust investment in new photos, fresh video and engaging content are paramount," Commissioner of Tourism Amy Shuler Goodwin said. "Even though we're still in the early stages of our campaign, we're seeing great potential in new areas beyond our primary markets. Through new data we are finding we have a significant number of visitors coming from states such as New York, Texas and Louisiana."

The Wild, Wonderful West Virginia campaign generated more than 1.2 million trips to West Virginia and provided approximately $12 million in state and local taxes, according to Goodwin.

Goodwin said the Huntington area saw a 6 percent increase in the amount of overnight trips from travelers.

"Although some of the trips were for business, the majority were for visiting friends and relatives," she said. "The numbers also showed mostly young married couples and some older folks coming back home to visit."

Goodwin says they market to both millennials and Baby Boomers.

"Millennials are spending money on travel and not new homes and cars, while Baby Boomers are retiring and have time and money to spend on travel," Goodwin said. "These are demographics we're keeping our eyes on in West Virginia."

Full article here.

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