CHARLESTON, WV (Hinton News) – Gov. Jim Justice announced that West Virginia’s tourism industry is up 3.8 percent over pre-pandemic levels as of 2021. While nationally tourism is still down 27 percent from 2019, West Virginia continues to trend upward.
The finding comes from yearly economic impact research, released by Gov. Justice yesterday at the industry’s annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism. The research shows traveler spending in West Virginia exceeded $4.9 billion in 2021.
“It comes as no surprise to me that our great state has come out on top of all the others once again,” said Gov. Justice. “I want to congratulate the entire tourism industry for all their hard work to help make this growth possible. I am looking forward to seeing our tourism industry continue to grow for many more years to come!”
In addition to statewide data, the report shows that each of the state’s nine travel regions saw growth in 2021. The report also shows that visitor spending for accommodations was $723 million, an increase of 44.1 percent and visitors who stayed in a short-term rental spent $176 million in 2021, an increase of 15.4 percent.
“Our industry didn’t just erase the impact of COVID-19, we actually did better last year than we were doing before the pandemic,” said West Virginia Tourism Secretary Chelsea Ruby. “Thanks to the overwhelming support from the Governor, the determination and grit of our incredible industry, and our state being perfectly positioned with wide open spaces, we’ve been able to thrive in spite of the challenges the past few years have brought.”
Projections for 2022 show another outstanding year with West Virginia expected to surpass $5 billion in travel spending for the first time in the state’s history.
The research was prepared by Dean Runyan and Associates, a leading national firm for tourism economic research. Runyan economists have studied the impact of West Virginia’s tourism industry since 2000.