CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Tourism Commissioner Betty Carver is taking a new journey of her own. After 37-years with the state Division of Tourism, the past 11 as commissioner, Carver’s last day on the job is Friday. She announced her retirement last month.
Carver said she started thinking about retirement this time last year and had set her mind on March. However, too many important tourism projects were on the horizon to make that possible. So she settled on May 31.
“There’s not a good time to leave. There’s always something exciting coming around the bend. So I just decided at this point in the season, this was the perfect time,” she explained.
Tourism is now a $5 billion industry in the Mountain State with 44,000 employees on the payroll. She predicts it’s just going to get bigger thanks to the wealth of forests, state parks, adventures and destinations that abound in West Virginia.
“There’s not a county in this state that is not an incredible opportunity for tourism because we have the types of things that everyone wants to enjoy,” she stressed.
From water water rafting to camping, museums and festivals, Carver said there’s never a dull moment in West Virginia. As tourism commissioner, it’s a job that’s kept her busy year-round.
She explained she’s seen a lot of changes in the tourism industry in the past decade. One of the biggest is getting your message out to potential visitors. She’s found the best approach is face to face.
“When we’ve had a travel writer here who’s visited the state and actually got to see and taste and touch and smell, that really translates into a much stronger sell for us, so to speak. First person experience is always the best, ” Carver stressed.
The outgoing commissioner said she’s leaving the position in good hands. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s former Communications Director Amy Shuler Goodwin is taking over the job.
Carver said what she’ll really miss is the daily contact with the people of West Virginia and all the visitors.
“Time and time again the thing we hear at the Division of Tourism, and I am so proud of that, is that visitors always comment on West Virginia people, how friendly they are and how much it means to them to interact with people when they visit here,” according to Carver. “That is truly our treasure here in the state.”
Earlier this year Carver’s husband won a Powerball prize worth $1-million. She said that had nothing to do with her decision to leave. But she wants people to know, she’ll still be around and plans to play some part in West Virginia tourism in the future. But first she plans to enjoy a summer off.