Inns, cabins, hotels, and campgrounds – the diversity of lodging in the Fayetteville area is growing as year-round tourism increases, according to the executive director of the town’s convention and visitors bureau.
Sally Kiner says diversification of the local outdoor-adventure market and the addition of new attractions and dining and shopping venues have helped draw overnight guests and inspired more creative lodging options.
“Fayetteville has long been the focus of outdoor recreation, but we’ve seen a significant change here in the past several years as new lodging venues have opened, especially in the spectrum of specialty venues such as small vacation rentals,” she said.
Fayetteville in 2016 enjoyed a seven-percent increase in bed-tax revenue over 2015, and traffic through its welcome center outpaced the previous year by nearly 30 percent. Kiner said that growth is likely to continue, though counts ended in November when the center closed for winter.
“I think we would have greeted another 400 to 500 visitors by the end of December and were still ahead of 2015 by almost 1,000 when we closed in November,” Kiner said.
The bureau had welcomed more than 3,000 guests in 2015, providing travel information and lodging assistance to diners, outdoor adventurers, guests who were attending local events, and tourists visiting the nearby New River Gorge Bridge.
The new numbers support the bureau’s proposition that the town is becoming a year-round vacation destination, a result of the increasingly popularity of the region as an outdoor-recreation destination in winter.
“Every year we welcome more visitors and more winter guests,” Kiner said. “Many are drawn by hiking, biking, and climbing opportunities and news of the collection of restaurants that has been established here.”
Six independent restaurants now operate in town’s historic downtown in addition to a host of specialty shops and outdoor-recreation outfitters.
Its restaurants have become principal draws around which visitors are building vacations, including weekend “dine-arounds” wherein guests supplement their visit with dining at local eateries.
Over more than a quarter century the region has earned world renown as a destination for rock climbing and whitewater rafting, though Kiner said the Fayetteville has become increasingly popular as a getaway for hiking and mountain biking.
Guests who signed-in at the visitor-center in 2016 hailed from 44 states, including, in descending order, West Virginia, Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Michigan. The center also welcomed visitors from 15 countries through the period, Kiner said.
Specialty shops and attractions such as spas and yoga studios are increasing the time visitors stay in the town while more than a dozen antiques shops have opened across the region, including four located in Fayetteville’s historic district.
Visual arts and live music and dramatic venues are also gaining ground, attracting tourists and helping to reveal the depth and accessibility of culture while the historic district continues to attract more history buffs and photographers.