Cooperation key to increasing tourism

We often look at economic development as the key to our valley’s future, but attracting new businesses isn’t the only element which needs attention.

Tourism also can provide an economic boon, if handled properly, and several area officials recently gathered to discuss ideas of what can be done to attract new visitors to the Ohio Valley.

While the meeting was held at Brooke Hills Park, it wasn’t just about Brooke County opportunities, or even just West Virginia for that matter.

Representatives of area museums, agricultural businesses, lodging establishments, historical attractions and more from across the Tri-State Area were joined by officials from the West Virginia University Extension Service and the West Virginia Division of Tourism.

They emphasized the importance of thinking regionally, with communities and attractions working together to draw visitors.

None of our communities can be considered one-stop destinations. Some towns may be known for their hotels or bed and breakfasts, others have recreational attractions. There are museums in Steubenville, Weirton, New Cumberland and Wellsburg; concert venues in Steubenville and Weirton; Tomlinson Run State Park in New Manchester; Brooke Hills Park in Wellsburg; a conference center in Bethany and much more. Add in the variety of events and locations in Ohio County, Belmont County and even into the Pittsburgh area, and the Upper Ohio Valley truly can be a destination worth visiting.

We can’t afford to take a one-community approach for any of our businesses or industries. The cities and towns of our area are tied together, relying on one another, for success. Cooperation and a regional approach must be our focus.