A project partnership, between the Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia University, and local stakeholders investigated the role of tourism in West Virginia. Several case studies were used to represent different phases of tourism development.
The New River Gorge has a well-developed trail system and a supportive alliance of stakeholder groups, and have already seen economic benefits from tourism development. That area is an example of a program that has already seen some success, and is now looking for ways to guarantee longer-term, sustainable support for initiatives.
Pocahontas County is looking to diversify and become a four-season destination by improving their mountain biking resources and getting a seal of approval from the International Mountain Biking Association. The existing ski industry at snowshoe, and the presence of both National and State Forests positions them for growth, but there is still plenty of work to be done.
Tucker County is still figuring out how to interact with the National Forest. Thus far, tourism has focused around the state parks on top of the mountain, and visitors are often unfamiliar with the recreation opportunities on Forest Service lands, which are seen as less tourist-friendly. This leads to the towns further down the mountain feeling cut out of the tourist economy, and making the Mon more accessible would help those valley towns catch up.
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