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Pendleton County Convention and Visitors Bureau Shares Good News About Local Tourism Statistics

By The Pendleton Times

Late last month, the Pendleton County Convention and Visitors Bureau held its monthly meeting. Board members heard a positive report about local hotel motel tax receipts for the first quarter of 2024. 

In the State of West Virginia, lodging guests pay a six percent tax on the cost of their stay. Half of that tax goes directly to the local governments, city or county, in which the business is located. The other half supports the local convention and visitors’ bureau – again either city or county. 

Government officials and economic experts cite hotel motel tax receipts as a reliable indicator of the state of the tourism and visitor economy. In areas such as Kanawha County, the visitor economy includes business and government work, but in Pendleton the indicators skew almost entirely toward tourism or personal visits to family or friends. 

Initial reports on tax receipts provided encouraging news. In the first quarter of 2023, the county collected $10,752, which was an improvement of a little less than $2,000 over 2022. In 2024, the county collected $12,781, an 18.87 percent increase over the same quarter last year. 

The year-to-date numbers also showed an increase of 11.43 percent over last year.

These receipts, in addition to contributions from the county, grants, and other sources pay for the county’s tourism marketing efforts. With the current independent CVB only coming into operation last year, the numbers may also point to the organization’s success in attracting more visits to the county.

Of course the number of visits exceeds the number of those who stay in county hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, or other taxed options. This makes the hotel motel tax receipts a loose, but always conservative, indicator of the health of the tourism economy.

Annie Humes, board member, said, “That is a higher rate of increase than we had expected.”

“I have reached out to all of the partners who will be engaged as stakeholders,” said Amber Nesselrodt, executive director, about the Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area grant that will fund efforts to connect tourism to area history, particularly that connected with forestlands and the heritage of the timber industry. 

The first public engagement meeting concerning the grant will take place at 5 p.m. on June 12 at Elevated Grounds in Franklin. Humes added that “it is very important to find ways to make sure that we are working with” the core themes used as parameters by AFNHA.

Jeff Munn, board member, suggested that the CVB work with Davis and Elkins’ Gerald Milnes, an expert on European witchcraft and folklore traditions that came to America along with colonial settlement.

Later in the meeting, he offered the idea that the Pendleton County Chamber of Commerce create an educational session to teach entrepreneurs how to start and run a bed and breakfast. Lindsay Kazarick agreed that the CVB should have a “stronger relationship with our lodging partners.” She added that “this is something that, historically, Pendleton County has done really well.”

Toward the end of the meeting, Munn shared his discussions with a business owner in Virginia about the prospect of a daffodil tour. Board members jumped in and offered ideas on how it could work, residents who already create images with daffodils, and how it could link with Maple Days. March Maple Days often coincides with the early spring daffodil bloom.

Nesselrodt also told of the higher-than-expected usage of the new CVB website. The software breaks down site visits into usable metrics, including from where visitors examine the site. It attracted attention from many in Pittsburgh and a few from as far away as Alaska.

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