CHARLESTON, ,W.Va. — Charleston, West Virginia and Richmond, Virginia ave a lot in common according to Jack Berry, the president and CEO of Richmond Region Tourism. He was in the Capitol City Wednesday to talk to the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau about ways to up the city’s profile.
It was just a little more than a decade ago when Richmond was in a rut. Tourism had fallen off and they didn’t have the basics to attract big conventions. That’s when, Berry said, they started to get serious about turning things around. Today the Virginia capital is a bustling tourism destination. Berry says his staff hasn’t had a weekend off since first of the year. They’ve got events going all all the time. Berry believes Charleston can have the same kind of renaissance.
“I think you’ve got a great product. Walking downtown I saw a lot of visitors,” said Berry. “Just look at the restaurant scene last night. It was 8:30. There were people waiting to get in on a Tuesday night!”
Berry stressed Richmond and Charleston have a lot of the same pluses. They’re both state capitols, have three interstates running through, busy smaller airports and a river running through them. He told the members of the CVB those are all selling points. They just need to get the word out. The best way to do that, according to Berry, is the Internet.
“It’s all social media now. It’s the millennials. (It’s important to) capture the women’s attention because she’s going to be the one to make the travel decisions,” he explained. “Get out in front that you have wonderful restaurants, wonderful shopping.”
He said the real game changer is a couple years down the road.
“Just wait when they fix the convention center and enhance it, you’ll do extremely well,” said Berry.
The city is setting aside $6 million to renovate the Civic Center. As for the setback Charleston suffered earlier this year with the water crisis, Berry stressed it’s all about being proactive.
“Just let the world know you’re open for business!”