The Upshur County Convention and Visitors Bureau will have a new home on Main Street within two months, Executive Director Laura Meadows told the Buckhannon Rotary Club this week.
The new location will be in a former antique shop near CJ Maggies, and it will be shared with another organization that is moving to Main Street. The CVB and the Buckhannon-Upshur Chamber of Commerce will be able to share office expenses at their new location.
Meadows told Rotarians about the upcoming move and how the CVB promotes tourism in West Virginia and Upshur County. She grew up in Upshur County, where she attended Tennerton Elementary School and later graduated from Buckhannon-Upshur High School in 2003. She said she and some friends still show their Tennerton Tiger pride by singing the school theme song when they get together.
"I'm from Buckhannon," she said during Tuesday's meeting. "I love this community. The only time I left, really, was for college."
Meadows attended Fairmont State University, where she was graduated with a marketing degree. She said she set a goal to be involved in tourism for West Virginia. Promoting the state and county through the CVB allows her to achieve that goal. She has been with the CVB for nearly two years.
"I love every single day. Sometimes I go through roller coasters, but get so excited about what's happening," Meadows said. "You can get down that slump where it seems like it takes forever. But looking back on the past two years, we've made a lot of really great strides. We've done a lot of really great things for Upshur County."
The CVB receives 60 percent of the collected hotel and motel taxes, while the city retains 40 percent of those taxes. This allows the CVB to use the money to help promote the county.
Meadows briefly summarized a few results of a national survey conducted by the Division of Tourism by an outside group. She said that of the 1,000 people surveyed, 8 percent didn't know that West Virginia was a separate state from Virginia. Another 16 percent didn't answer.
"They didn't know enough about our state to answer one way or the other," Meadows said.
When asked about their impression of West Virginia, 64 percent of survey takers also didn't know enough about the state to answer.
"While we were listening to the study, everyone's getting frustrated because it seems like you do so much to try to promote West Virginia," Meadows said. "It's easy to get frustrated, but that's 64 percent of people whom we have an opportunity to have an impression, to give them a positive reason to come to West Virginia and see the good things about our state."
The most common words used to describe West Virginia were "natural," "small town," "friendly" and "wild." The most popular answer survey takers gave as a reason for visiting West Virginia was sightseeing. Other reasons for visiting were to participate in outdoor activities, to visit friends and family members, to visit a resort or casino and to attend conferences and conventions. Others said West Virginia consisted of cute small towns with arts and crafts fairs.
Meadows said Upshur County's tagline is "what small town charm is all about." She said the survey takers' impressions of West Virginia and what the CVB promotes go "hand-in-hand."
One of the negative aspects of West Virginia that the survey showed was that many people thought the state was difficult to get to.
The CVB continues to promote the state and Upshur County through online and magazine advertisements. The Upshur County CVB is an accredited member of the West Virginia Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus.