As many as 80 travel writers from across North America will explore southern West Virginia in May during a meeting of the Freelance Council of the Society of American Travel Writers.
During its winter meeting last month in Japan, the society unanimously voted to accept a itinerary proposed by Adventures on the Gorge, the West Virginia Tourism Office, and the Charleston, South Charleston, and Southern West Virginia convention and visitors bureaus.
The premier association of travel writers in North America, society members include writers for top print and online media outlets as well as broadcasters and bloggers.
Tourism Commissioner Chelsea Ruby haled the meeting as a remarkable chance to share the southern part of the state with the world.
“This is our opportunity to show and tell our most compelling stories to some of the nation’s best storytellers and to demonstrate just why we call our little corner of this beautiful country Almost Heaven,” Ruby said.
Scheduled for May 17-21, the meeting theme is “Southern West Virginia: Reinventing a Destination.”
The schedule will highlight the region’s abundant adventures, such as rafting the New River, exploring national parks, and visiting local makers, such as artists and brewers in action. Meeting attendees will also learn about the region’s history and culture.
The Freelance Council of the society meets in domestic and international destinations twice annually, and members spend much of the time searching for material for their travel stories.
Recent meetings were staged in Israel, Peru, Riviera Maya, Mammoth Lakes, Calif., and Columbus, Ohio.
Meeting delegates will spend one night in Charleston at the Holiday Inn & Suites Charleston-West and three nights at Adventures on the Gorge.
Delegates will experience many of the region’s favorite travel adventures and explore attractions such as the Tamarack arts center and the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine. In Charleston, the group will tour the Clay Center, the Capitol Market, and the J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works.
The meeting will include a panel session with some of the region’s top tourism leaders to discuss how Southern West Virginia is continuing to emerge as a thriving destination.
Roger Wilson, CEO of Adventures on the Gorge, said the meeting was an ideal means to reach travelers from across the U.S.
“Although many travelers from the mid-Atlantic and other surrounding regions may be well aware of the exquisite natural beauty and compelling adventures available in the New River Gorge, travelers from more far-flung regions of the country will be in for a pleasant surprise,” Wilson said.
“This is our opportunity to greatly expand the reach of that message so writers from around the country can tell their readers, listeners, and viewers about us.”
Although Adventures on the Gorge and the other tourism partners have already enlisted the enthusiastic support of attractions throughout the region, many partnership and sponsorship opportunities remain for entities that would like to showcase their brands and offerings to the group.