Tourism Day At the Capitol and A New Survey
The tourism industry showed up in force for the Tourism Day at the Capitol in Charleston in late January, according to information from Cara Rose, Executive Director of the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Rose said a united group of individuals, businesses and organizations shared the good news about tourism in the state.
Rose had the opportunity to talk with all our legislators representing Pocahontas County. She said among a number of bills that are of interest to the county are two high priority tourism bills – HB2600/SB286 and SB105. These bills are in committee right now and haven’t shown any movement, as each chamber is considering hundreds of bills.
HB2600/SB286 would alter the existing Hotel Occupancy Tax statute, if passed. Of primary concern is that the foundational integrity of the statute is in jeopardy – the removal of any requirements to provide funding to CVBs.
SB105 concerns a proposed amusement tax. This bill would permit County Commissions in WV to approve this tax for any use it deems appropriate, as it is written, with no definition of use or what constitutes an amusement. The CVB and the WV Hospitality & Travel Association oppose this bill as they believe this bill targets the visitor and private business specifically.
In other tourism news, the Pocahontas County CVB has engaged WVU Extension to conduct their first ever Comprehensive Tourism Economic Study. With the help of county business supporters, they have conducted visitor surveys in the past to form visitor profiles which have been very useful. 2017 was the last time they conducted guest profile surveys.
Rose says this study will be much more comprehensive and one of the first comprehensive tourism studies for a WV county. They will use this data to leverage future product development opportunities in the county.
WVU Extension is well established in conducting studies on behalf of industries, especially tourism. Dr. Doug Arbogast, Dr. Jinyang Deng and Daniel Eades, a Specialist in Rural Economics, are leading the study. Lily Oles and other graduate students will also be assisting. CVB staff will also be collecting visitor data at visitor’s centers and Rose will gather one-on-one visitor surveys as well.
The study will combine a variety of data, both secondary and third party as well as on the ground guest surveys throughout the year. They began the survey in early January and are off to a good start compiling a visitor profile. They will continue the on-the-ground surveys through October.
They will primarily be conducting visitor surveys at attractions and businesses around the county through October. Collecting a diverse visitor profile by capturing data from guests at various businesses is key to success in best understanding our visitors. The visitor survey takes guests about 5 minutes to complete. If anyone is willing to help collect this data on behalf of the CVB by asking guests to complete the survey, that will complement their data collection immensely. If willing to help, Rose will deliver printed copies and periodically pick up completed surveys. They may also conduct a business partner survey and will be reaching out to businesses for that research piece.
The comprehensive study will be available to everyone once completed later this year. Rose thanks the community for all their support.