Most likely, meeting planners are generally unfamiliar with southern West Virginia’s three National Park Service sites. That’s all about to change, however, because of the area’s convention and visitors bureau’s new marketing campaign.
Visit Southern West Virginia, formerly known as Southern West Virginia Convention and Visitors Bureau, announced that it will be featuring the sites—New River Gorge National River, Gauley River National Recreation Area and Bluestone National Scenic River—in its campaign.
Some 1 million copies of the publication The Great American Vacation, focusing on the West Virginia parks, will be printed and distributed through the National Park Service, West Virginia Division of Tourism, local visitor centers and other outlets.
Marketed as the National Parks of Southern Virginia, the three sites already attract more than 1.2 million annual visitors to the region and generate $60.6 in the local economy, but the CVB contends that the locations are underappreciated. Studies show that 45 percent of visitors to the sites didn’t realize they were visiting national parks, and that they would have visited sooner if they’d known, according to a New River Gorge National River source.
The campaign is banking on the National Park Service being one of the most recognizable brands in the world—and it will be celebrating its centennial in 2016.
Southern West Virginia consists of nine counties, offering more than 2,700 guest rooms in a variety of conference and meeting facilities that can accommodate everything from small meetings to gatherings with 1,200 attendees. The area also features rafting, kayaking, mountain biking and many other outdoor adventure opportunities. More relaxing options include golf, fishing, snow skiing, live theater, artisan centers and historic sites.
The region is within 500 miles of 60 percent of the U.S. population. Local airports include Raleigh County Memorial Airport in Beckley (BKW), Greenbriar Valley Airport (LWB) in Lewisburg Mercer County Airport and neighboring Yeager Airport in Charleston (CRW).