Almost Heaven: Tourism officials right to embrace slogan

West Virginians who have done much traveling know the song “Country Roads,” and the state for which it has come to stand, are known all over the world. Bar patrons in almost any country sing along, word for word, if the tune comes over the sound system. If there happens to be a West Virginian among them, that person might find themselves urged to put on a performance of his or her own.

State tourism officials are smart to recognize the value in such good will; and the announcement this week that “Almost Heaven” will be officially added to the use of “Wild and Wonderful” as part of a state tourism campaign is promising.

“Fifty-six percent of people, when they were asked ‘What do you think of West Virginia, is it an appealing place to visit?’ said yes,” said tourism commissioner Chelsea Ruby. “We went back to them, and asked how they felt about ‘Almost Heaven, West Virginia’ and that increased to 68 percent, as having a positive association.

“Then we played the song, ‘Country Roads,’ and it jumped all the way up to 81 percent positive,” Ruby said. “So, we knew that not only was this a well-known song, but that it had a very positive association, and made them think very positively about West Virginia.”

Of course, it is still up to West Virginians to build on that positivity by creating experiences that will make visitors return, and spread the word. But tourism officials have done an excellent job taking advantage of another of our state’s resources. Here’s hoping more folks will come to think of West Virginia as “the place I belong.”