By national standards, West Virginia has a fairly small tourism industry.
The study estimates the economic impact of travel and tourism in the state at $4.27 billion for 2010. But a review of the "Power of Travel" assessment by the U.S. Travel Association shows neighboring states such as Ohio and Virginia have three or four times the travel spending of West Virginia, and in California the annual impact is about $90 billion.
But the 10-year plan maintains there is a lot of room for the Mountain State to grow, even without beaches or Disneyland.
In particular, West Virginia can take advantage of the national trend of travelers taking shorter, but more frequent trips. The total population of our bordering states is more than 42 million people, and with vast public lands, a strong state park system, mountain elevations and world-class whitewater, West Virginia has great potential for outdoor getaways. ...
But taking advantage of those assets will require investment, and the plan lays out a list of short-term and long-term action steps in each area of tourism. Those range from improving the state tourism grant program and possibly changing the way second homes are taxed to simply doing a better job of coordinating and promoting potential tourism destinations.
West Virginia has a good tourism story to tell, and it is encouraging that state officials seem ready to employ new strategies to bring more visitors to the state.
The Journal, Martinsburg, W.Va., on state Senate president Kessler:
Democrats in the West Virginia State Senate agreed to keep Sen. Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, as their president for the next two years. The decision, yet to be formalized in a vote, was made during a meeting Dec. 9.
Kessler became Senate president last year, succeeding now-Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.
There never was any real doubt Kessler would retain the post, though there had been some speculation he might face a challenge. The political ability Kessler showed in lining up the votes to succeed Tomblin made it clear attempting to replace him would be an exceedingly difficult task.
Part of the reason Senate Democrats chose wisely is that Kessler, while a staunch supporter of the party and its ideals, has gone out of his way to work well with Republican legislators. He understands more progress can be made that way than by adopting a hard-nosed attitude. He is right about that, and should pursue that policy in the future.