Pocahontas County Cautiously Prepares to Safely Restart Tourism
Just as West Virginia begins to reopen for business, so too, the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau looks to slowly and safely reopen the county’s largest industry -tourism. CVB Director Cara Rose explains.
“Well. First of all, I will tell you this is National Tourism Week, the annual week where we celebrate the value that travel and tourism brings to the economy throughout the entire United States” Rose said. “And that certainly is true for Pocahontas County. And it’s really more important now more than ever for us to understand that tourism and travelers are extremely valuable to our communities. The hospitality industry brings a hundred and eleven million ($111,000,000) dollars annually to our economy.”
“That said, COVID-19 has impacted the hospitality industry throughout the world, and Pocahontas County dramatically. It has changed the way we look at travel, the way we will travel, and how we welcome guests back to the county. How we go about that is going to be challenging, but we can. We will figure this out. We see our business partners throughout the county already adapting new protocols and adopting safety measures for the health and well-being of not only themselves, their staff, their employees but for customers, visitors and guests. So, it can be done, and we will make this happen. But, we’re gonna have to take it gradual. From a community standpoint, we need to be prepared to welcome guests back. We need to not only be ready from a mental frame of mind, but also from the safety side.”
“There are many protocols available out there now for basically every segment of the economy. And then use your best common sense when you are implementing these protocols. I know that it is not going to be easy, this is going to be a challenge for our business partners to do. But we already see it. Our community businesses are implementing protocols that make it safe to interact with guests, customers and visitors. So. It is possible.”
“People come here because of outdoor recreation to begin with. We offer a tremendous product in our county already that is build around outdoor recreation. So, we position well for that product that people are always looking for. But, more importantly then ever, research is telling us that travelers are going to be ready to travel again as states start to reopen. They are going to be looking at driving destinations far more than ever before. They will be in their cars and travelling within one to two hundred miles of their home. I suspect that a lot of this travel will be day-trip travel to begin with, which is fantastic, that helps us ease back into this travel market. And, eventually they will begin their over-night stays again.”
“I understand the community’s concerns with inviting visitors back- completely understand that. The convention and Visitors Bureau is sensitive to our community needs, and the fear they might have. So, we will be careful about how we reintroduce our marketing strategies as we reopen, and our businesses will be reopening. We are starting to see that happen now, because the Governor’s reopening plan is permitting it. We have outdoor dining that going to be reopening this week for restaurants, we have a few lodging businesses that are reopening -social distancing practices in place. And once our attractions reopen, which there are no scheduled dates for reopening any of our attractions at this point, but when that does happen, we will slowly begin to see travelers slowly returning to Pocahontas County. Again, I will say that I do think that we are extremely well positioned from a travel destination to not only welcome guests back -because we have the opportunity to offer them a social distancing, a physical distancing environment by nature, just because we have wide open space and the Monongahela National Forest, five state parks, two state forests. So the opportunity for outdoor recreation provides us that way back in to the travel market. We’ll rebound from the COVID-19 because of those things.”