CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Division of Tourism will have more money to spend on advertising West Virginia in the wake of the Jan. 9 chemical spill and water emergency in parts of nine counties.
“You have to make some strategic decisions based upon the circumstances,” said Keith Burdette, secretary of the state Department of Commerce, of the decision to put an additional $1.2 million into the tourism budget.
“This is the right time to do it. We’re going to shift money around to try to get this done. This has to be a priority this spring,” he said.
Stories about contaminated tap water in Charleston, W.Va. and surrounding areas were seen nationally and internationally earlier this year after the leak at Freedom Industries put crude MCHM and PPH, coal processing chemicals, into the Elk River — the source water for West Virginia American Water Company’s Kanawha Valley Water Treatment Plant which serves 300,000 West Virginians.
The concern for state officials is that questions about the safety of the tap water may keep many people out of West Virginia in the coming months.
“This is the spring planning season. This is when people make decisions about their vacations and everything else and we think we have to double up our efforts to reassure that West Virginia is still the right place to come,” said Burdette on Friday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
“It’s always good to advertise your wares, to tell people what you’ve got to offer and we want to make sure that the ‘wild and wonderful brand’ has not been permanently damaged.”
The additional money will double the money the Division of Tourism originally had to spend.
Plans call for ads about visiting West Virginia to run in Washington, D.C. along with parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia.