CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Of all of Governor-elect Jim Justice’s recent appointments, the highest pressure may fall on new state Tourism Commissioner Chelsea Ruby. Speaking on MetroNewsTalkline Monday, Ruby admitted Justice is highly engaged about growing the state’s tourism industry and is not going to be patient about doing it.
“I’ve met with Governor Justice a number of times now and spent quite a bit of time with him,” she said. “I’ve heard about his vision, heard about his idea and I’ll tell you this; he thinks bigger than anybody in this state has ever thought about tourism.”
Justice, throughout his campaign, made the state’s tourism potential a centerpiece of his campaign. Justice sees tourism becoming one of the state’s top employers and one of the state’s most important industries. Ruby agrees with the vision.
“We are perfectly positioned for growth,” she said. “We are the most beautiful state in the country, we have four seasons, we’re an eight hour drive from two-thirds of the population and we’ve got a governor whose going to get involved personally and make it a top priority. I think you’re going to see big results.”
So with all of the hype, what can people expect. Ruby said the approach at least initially will be two fold. She plans to review all of the data regarding tourism and spending to market the state and anticipates there will be a massive marketing campaign. The second plan will be to target businesses to come to West Virginia who are tourism related, put down roots, and create jobs.
“We’re really going to get into development by looking at what assets we have and helping them grow,” she said. “Then there’s the ‘Dollywood’ ideas. How do we bring new industry to West Virginia. How do we attract tourist attractions and create jobs?”
Ruby said she has pages and pages of notes which lay out what Justice wants to see with tourism. He has set the bar high and expects major results. Ruby said she’s up to the challenge.