Tourism: Soccer championships offer great opportunities

Mountain State residents will have a chance to show off a little more of the hospitality for which we are known when young people — and their families — from around the country make their way to West Virginia next year and in 2020 for three major national youth soccer tournaments.

Anyone who has witnessed the effect even a statewide tournament has on the economy for the region where it is hosted will know what a boon this should be for economies in Cabell and Kanawha counties. But that effect will be felt throughout the state, if other local tourism officials play their cards right.

The 2019 U.S. Youth Soccer Eastern Regional Championships, and the 2019 and 2020 Eastern Presidents Cup tournaments will be held in Barboursville and Dunbar.

“This is huge for our economy and a great opportunity for thousands of young people and their families to experience the many wonderful things West Virginia has to offer. We want them to have a fantastic time while they are here and certainly hope they will return in the future to continue to explore Almost Heaven,” said Gov. Jim Justice.

In fact, while the governor’s office estimates the total economic impact of the tournaments will be approximately $32 million, there is potential for a longer lasting effect, if we pull together to show these visitors what we have to offer, and make sure they leave our state wanting to return and continue their exploration as quickly as possible.

Surely state tourism officials are preparing a travel pack to be distributed to the families of players who will participate in the tournament. County tourism officials should be putting together information that features the best of what their region has to offer these families, and making sure the folks in Charleston get it. No one should feel as though distance or isolation would cancel out the effort. Families traveling from all over the country will have to drive through all parts of the state to reach the tournament sites. They will have to drive back, too.

Jump on this opportunity, ladies and gentlemen.