CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WBOY) – West Virginia tourism has finally bounced back from the COVID pandemic, Gov. Jim Justice announced on Wednesday.

As of 2021, the state’s tourism industry is up 3.8 percent over pre-pandemic levels, despite national tourism still being down 27 percent from 2019, according to yearly economic impact research released by Gov. Justice Tuesday.

“It comes as no surprise to me that our great state has come out on top of all the others once again,” said Gov. Justice. “I want to congratulate the entire tourism industry for all their hard work to help make this growth possible. I am looking forward to seeing our tourism industry continue to grow for many more years to come!”

Gov. Jim Justice at the annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism on Tuesday (Courtesy: Gov. Justice’s office)

The report showed that each of the state’s nine travel regions saw growth in 2021. Visitor spending in West Virginia was up 30% from 2020 and was even higher than in 2019, and travel industry jobs were up 11.3% from 2020.

“Our industry didn’t just erase the impact of COVID-19, we actually did better last year than we were doing before the pandemic,” said West Virginia Tourism Secretary Chelsea Ruby. “Thanks to the overwhelming support from the Governor, the determination and grit of our incredible industry, and our state being perfectly positioned with wide open spaces, we’ve been able to thrive in spite of the challenges the past few years have brought.” 

West Virginia is expected to surpass $5 billion in travel spending for the first time in the state’s history in 2022, according to a release from Gov. Justice.

To review the 2021 Travel Impacts Study in its entirety, click here​.