West Virginia gets it. Well, at least the governor and the author of this insightful editorial do.
The governor proposes increasing the budget for the Division of Tourism from $6 million to $20 million. That's a bold move considering that states everywhere are struggling to balance budgets. Sometimes it's helpful to see and truly understand the bigger picture. From a bean counter's perspective, this sounds like another increased expenditure. In reality, tourism marketing is an investment. As the editorial states, for every dollar spent on tourism advertising, the state takes in $8 in state and local taxes not to mention $106 in direct traveler spending that keeps museums, shops, restaurants, outfitters and lodging properties in business. Imagine the effect of tripling that.
It's no secret that West Virginia's economy is struggling. For those readers who have not spent much time in the Mountaineer State, let me assure you they have a lot to offer visitors. The governor knows how good their tourism product is and is confident there is plenty of opportunity for growth. He's looking at nearby states and noticing that some of them enjoy five times as much direct visitor spending and he wants some of it.
This should serve as a wake-up call to my home state of Virginia. At the state level, Virginia is for Lovers does a great job at promoting tourism. At the local level, many city, town or county tourism offices also do a terrific job. The important message: Don't get complacent.