The West Virginia University Extension Service Community Resources and Economic Development unit has produced a video series to educate community leaders about tourism development in West Virginia.

The series, titled “Voices of Change,” is intended to encourage and facilitate the discussion about tourism development in communities across the state by featuring three West Virginia communities — Elkins, Berkeley Springs and Fayetteville — that have experienced the successes and challenges that come with using tourism as an economic development strategy.

According to Doug Arbogast, rural tourism specialist with the WVU Extension Service, tourism is an important component of economic development for many communities in the state, but it requires a long-term vision and a commitment to make that vision a reality.

“Tourism is a complex system of interrelated parts — and as the tourism industry grows —we really need to examine how all the components work together by listening to those in communities trying to address these opportunities and challenges on a daily basis,” said Arbogast. “We chose those communities since they have a unique mix of primary and secondary attractions.”

He hopes that the video series can shine the light on these communities with established tourism industries and nurture developing opportunities in others, with the intent that local leaders will use them to learn about the development process in their own communities.

Arbogast and his colleagues spoke to a variety of tourism stakeholders in the communities to gain a broad perspective. Local government officials, representatives from museums, state park officials, local business owners, non-profit organizations, chefs and performers participated in the interviews.

Though each community’s tourism development story is unique, common themes emerged.

“We found that no matter what, everyone involved loved their community, loved West Virginia and saw great opportunities for tourism, yet struggled to overcome similar challenges,” said Daniel Eades, rural economic specialist with the WVU Extension Service. “Their passion to preserve an authentic, engaging local brand and overcome obstacles can serve as an inspiration to other communities.”

To view the videos, visit

The Community Resource and Economic Development unit is dedicated to providing educational programs, research, and technical assistance to strengthen the capacity of citizens and organizations throughout the state of West Virginia. By utilizing the latest research-based knowledge, strategies and technology, the unit is capable of helping people understand community change and identify opportunities to improve their environmental, social and economic well-being.

To learn more about WVU Extension’s Community Resources and Economic Development programs, visit



CONTACT: Cassie Thomas, WVU Extension Service

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