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West Virginia is a great place to live

Like people everywhere, West Virginians complain mightily about what they think are the state's shortcomings and nag state officials to fix them.

But carping should not be confused with lack of love for the state. Nothing could be further from the truth.

West Virginians know what their fellow Americans are missing: Wild, wonderful West Virginia is one lovely place to live - and to visit.

A recent study points out that tourism presents an economic opportunity the state is not fully tapping.

The state Department of Commerce took bids for a 10-year plan for the state Division of Tourism. AECOM Technical Services Inc. of Arlington, Va., responded with a report that provides much food for thought.

  • The Mountain State can capitalize on the trend
  • toward short-duration trips. Surrounding states alone provide a potential market of 42 million people.

  • The state would benefit by strengthening its appeal to retirees and as a location for second homes. Retirees have steady incomes that won't go down, and generally have insurance.
  • "The economic benefits of retirees in a community have been well documented," the study said. "Retiree residents generally pay the full range of state and local taxes but consume little in the way of public services, and they frequently buy or build new homes."

    Recreational, cultural and heritage attractions can be found all over the state - from the Boy Scouts' Summit Bechtel Reserve in Raleigh County to rafting, skiing, hiking, biking . . .

    West Virginians are already expanding the list in their own minds - ATVing, birdwatching, hunting, fishing, photography, camping and more.

    Outgoing state Sen. Richard Browning, D-Wyoming, who played a key role in sparking the study, articulates the opportunity well:

    "From the beginning I wanted to look at tourism as an economic diversification tool," he said. "To get away from these times with the energy market going up and down, we need to diversify. . .

    "We've got a good base to build upon, and we've got a study to point us toward that."

    Indeed we do.


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