MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A new study by a Portland, Oregon firm has revealed Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties lead the state in state tourism revenue.

The report, compiled by Dean Runyan Associates, details tourism numbers in each West Virginia county from 2000-2017. The report was released in September for the state tourism office, the same month Governor Jim Justice announced traveler spending grew in 2017 — the first time since 2012.

Of the $4.3 billion previously reported by Justice and indicated in the Dean Runyan report, $996.4 million happened in Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties alone.

“Travel impacts, in absolute terms, are highest in the state’s Eastern Panhandle (Berkeley,
Jefferson, and Morgan counties), just a short distance from Washington D.C. and
Baltimore. The area offers visitors a variety of historic sites and attractions, including
Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, Berkeley Springs State Park, and Hollywood Casino
at Charles Town Races.”

-Dean Runyan Associates study

The report also found the second highest amount of traveler spending was in the Huntington and Charleston area, referred to as the Metro Valley. In 2017, the region raked in $764.9 million in tourism money.

File photo

Tourist attractions in the eastern panhandle like Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races tend to draw people from the DC/Baltimore metro areas.

The Martinsburg-Berkeley County Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) was recently presented with a state award. The “Stars of the Industry” award applauds the agency for their efforts to attract more DC-area residents.

In partnership with the state tourism office, as well as officials in Jefferson and Morgan counties, print and digital ads were placed in DC-area Metro and MARC stations.

Some of the ads showcased popular spots in West Virginia with eye-catching taglines such as “one hour close to you”.

“We had like 39 million impressions, all of these really huge numbers,” said Martinsburg-Berkeley County CVB Executive Director Mark Jordan on WEPM’s Panhandle Live. “They were very impressed and so we won an award for it. We did a lot of work and it was a good collaboration between the three counties.”

Just like the Dean Runyan report, Jordan agreed the Eastern Panhandle’s proximity to DC and Baltimore is a key ingredient to the area’s continuous economic success. His agency views public transit as a tool to draw more people to the Mountain State.

“There are so many people that ride the DC Metro, we thought it would be a great opportunity to advertise the Eastern Panhandle because we are so close. People can come out here and have a good time then go back or spend the weekend here just to get out of the city. We wanted to let the people know what we have here in their own backyard.”

You can read the full, 55-page Dean Runyan Associates report here.

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