You Can Tell a Lot about Tourism in Pocahontas County by Watching Cars
In part one of our recent interview with Cara Rose of the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau, we talked about the scientific way of measuring the impact of tourism on the county –tourism surveys. After talking about this, we mentioned to Cara that there have been a lot of cars on the county’s roads recently which are hauling kayaks, canoes or bicycles. Bringing that up to Cara, we asked if she has noticed this as well, and what do such raw and unscientific observations tell us about the amount and types of tourism here in Pocahontas County.
“ I do think that there is a real legitimacy in measuring what the travelling environment is in Pocahontas County simply by watching the vehicles that are travelling through the county” said Cara. “You can tell people are recreating because they have bikes on their cars; they have kayaks and canoes on their cars; they have skis and snowboards on their car. Motorcyclists – we can easily identify them- and the vast majority of those motorcyclists are visitors coming to the county to ride their motorcycles. And I have noticed over the last couple of years, an increase in that kind of traffic coming into the county. So as we continue to grow our marketing toward recreational activity –recreational economy- in the county, you are going to see more and more people with bicycles and kayaks and canoes on their cars. Yea, I don’t think it’s an accident at all that we’re seeing more of that kind of traffic coming through. And you can actually distinguish a visitor when you see a car that’s got a bike on it, or a kayak on it or a snowboard on it, or a motorcycler. It’s a whole lot easier to tell that they are visitors. Looking at license plates is another way you can do it. Of course even West Virginians travel in Pocahontas County too, so you might not really recognize them as a traveler, but they’re actually our largest audience coming to Pocahontas County – I think it is about ten percent of visitors in West Virginia are West Virginians. I think there is a lot of value in watching and seeing- you know, measuring yourself what kind of increase you see in that kind of traffic.”
That probably low balls it, because in this area you’ve got people who come in to hike or cave and you may not see anything on the roof of their car.
“Exactly, you don’t always know who is a visitor and who isn’t” replied Cara. “But again, I have for the past several years, been watching the trend – I mean, I don’t actually go out and count the cars every day, but I do feel just in general that we do see more and more of that kind of traffic coming through the area, and it does make it a little easier to say ‘Yes, we are a recreational destination.’ We are Nature’s Mountain Playground, and that’s why people are coming here.”
How does it make you feel when you see a whole bunch of cars with skis?
“I will tell you, I get excited when I am travelling home in the evenings in the middle of January – and I travel East on Route 39 toward Minnehaha Springs – and I truly do get excited when I pass ten or twelve cars that have skis or snowboards on them in the middle of January. It’s exciting. It means that we have travelers coming to Pocahontas County, and that is good news. They’re coming to our county to enjoy our wonderful destination, our outdoor recreation, our snow and also support our economy. I really do get excited about that idea, because it is a really interesting way to measure how many people come in to recreate in this county.”