By Brian Jewell
West Virginia will host the Travel South Showcase event for the first time next year on February 23-26, bringing an influx of tour operators and travel media into the state for familiarization trips, hosted events and face-to-face meetings.
“Charleston has stepped up to the plate and asked us to help them host this prestigious event and we’re happy to do so,” said Betty Carver, West Virginia’s state travel director, in an interview at this year’s Showcase in Little Rock, Arkansas. “We’re looking forward to showing off our state capital city, our capitol building, our new West Virginia State Museum and the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences, just to name a few.”
“We’re elated for the whole city,” said Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau CEO Alisa Bailey. “Our Capitol complex is spectacular; our state capitol is one of the most stunning in America. Opening night will be at the Clay Center, where we’ll bring in artisans, chefs, musicians and indigenous foods. Everyone knows our Appalachian music heritage, but we’re going to open their eyes to lots of other things as well.”
“Our West Virginia Music Hall of Fame is in Charleston and includes some of our favorite native sons and daughters — musicians like Kathy Mattea and Brad Paisley,” said Carver, a current member of the Travel South USA Board of Directors. “NPR’s Mountain Stage is broadcast from Charleston, and Vandalia is a live music event that takes place right on the Capitol grounds on Memorial Day weekend.”
“Charleston is a hub-and-spoke city,” said Bailey. “From here, groups can go rafting, zip lining [and] travel down to the Hatfield and McCoys region and so many other places. We can’t wait to show it off to these operators.”