"Lifestyle tourists" may be a fairly new term to West Virginia and our region in particular, but it's also one we need to make note of because we're likely to be hearing a lot more about it.
Most of us know someone who has visited the area and eventually purchased a second home here. These are lifestyle tourists. A lot of us also probably know a couple who has cashed in on retirement and decided to make the Mountain State their new permanent home. The West Virginia Division of Tourism is aiming to make both of these groups more common fixtures in our communities.
Tourism officials say the marketing slogan "Play, Stay and Live" has "huge potential returns" for the state. We hope they're right.
Dr. Charles Longino, a professor at Wake Forest University who is considered the nation's leading authority on retirement migration, says the economic impact of one retiree family is the equivalent to the creation of 3.7 factory jobs. Other positive findings concerning lifestyle tourists and retirees are that they spend heavily in their local communities and they tend to volunteer with local service organizations.
We believe the Mountain State is the best place to live, and apparently a lot of other people do, too. The Division of Tourism says West Virginia has the highest percentage of people who return to their home state. If this continues, we can see many great reunions in the future.
Old friends and new friends working toward the betterment of their communities - economically and philanthropically. What could be better? Welcome home - West Virginia's waiting.