WESTON, W.Va. – The Lewis County Chamber of Commerce held a ‘Lunch & Learn’ at Lambert’s Winery on Wednesday.

This event featured special guest speaker Chelsea Ruby, who is the Secretary of Tourism in West Virginia.

She spoke to local leaders in Lewis County and gave them an update on tourism from the past couple of years.

Furthermore, she also talked about how tourism helps everyone in the state, not just businesses focused on tourism. 2021 had the highest on record visitation in West Virginia from tourists.

“West Virginians are so welcoming of [tourists] that you know 87% of them once they visit once they come back,” said Chelsea A. Ruby, Secretary of Tourism in W.V.

Officials said this is likely due to the pandemic and how everyone was locked up and now has a newly found love for the great outdoors.

Ruby said, “If you look at the research the types of vacations that people are wanting right now, they wanna visit small towns, they wanna go to uncrowded places, and they wanna be able to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors.”

She said the state has great tax credit programs that help new business owners in West Virginia start-up tourism businesses and they put $151-million into state parks in the last two years.

According to the tourism officials, travelers in West Virginia in 2019 spent $4.8-billion in traveler spending, $1.2-billion in earnings, 47,600 tourism-supported jobs, $791-million in state & local tax revenue, and she said this year is already projected to top these numbers.

In 2021 West Virginia has had more than 3-billion views on paid advertisements for the state.

Not only that, but Ruby said, “that West Virginia was the only destination in the entire county that made all of the 2022 top 10 lists.”

“I can’t find where we have ever made one of these lists before, but we certainly have never been at the top at all of them before.”

She discusses how we welcome tourists into our communities and we welcome them like family, which leaves a lasting impression on people who visit the mountain state.

Ruby challenges West Virginians to not only think about their favorite vacation destination in the state, but to think about and visit a new location in the mountain state in the future.

For more information on West Virginia Dept. of Tourism click here.

If you want more information on the Lewis County Chamber of Commerce click here.