PARKERSBURG- Tourism business people had an opportunity Wednesday to meet one-on-one with members of the West Virginia Division of Tourism staff.
Betty Carver, commissioner of tourism, said the meeting at the Blennerhassett Hotel were not formal "classroom" meetings, but informal discussions with staff from the division.
"We are purposely keeping these informal," she said. "Normally we have presentations where people come in and sit in classroom style and see a PowerPoint presentation that goes over the information."
This way, Carver said, they meet the staff, have a chance to interact with them, build a relationship and ask questions. She said it is also an opportunity to get immediate feedback on what tourism officials are doing and suggestions on what they should do or information they should provide.
"We are not getting a lot of comments or suggestions," Carver said. "What we are finding is for people we have worked with for years it is good for them to review our services."
Over the past few years the Division of Tourism has been adding information on the tourism Web site because the trend is for tourists to do their travel planning over the Internet, Carver said.
"We are trying to make sure they know how we are utilizing the Web site to make sure they get us correct information," she said.
Representatives from the local convention and visitors bureau and chamber of commerce also attended the meeting. Carver said it is important for businesses to know they have a local representative there and to let them know about the state's marketing resources.
"We have the direct matching program which is for advertising, a very strong program for the industry," she said. "We think that is why we have seen steady growth over the years."
Carver said the division is gearing up for the sesquicentennial, or 150th anniversary, of the Civil War.
"We dedicated a half million dollars to provide the first 150 signs across the state," she said. "People can make applications and we are trying to make sure the stories are being told accurately."
West Virginia is one of five states participating in the 2011 to 2015 commemoration, Carver said, and all will have links to other states' Web sites to cover campaigns and events that covered areas crossing state lines.
Justin Gaull, marketing specialist, said sites are under consideration and they are working with the convention and visitors bureau on the sites.
"There's a good chance we will see an influx of tourists in the last three years," he said. "The group tour operators are interested in the big sites during the first two years of the sesquicentennial. After that they will want to focus on the smaller raids, engagements and stories."