Published on : Friday, January 13, 2017
My service for the state I love has never been about a position; it’s always been about passion.While I’ve been blown away by the calls, texts, emails, social media posts, and favorite candy sent , the positive momentum we have created in the travel and tourism industry in West Virginia during the last two and a half years has never been just about me.
In fact, no one person can do this alone—not a commissioner, not a governor. And if you loved her or hated her, Hillary was right: It does take a village. It takes people with passion all working together outside of politics to move this state to her rightful place as a premier destination.
Tourism professionals at the highest level in the world know it is more than just solid marketing. True success must be a combination of smart investments in the right markets with the right research to back up those investments combined with the most important element in a successful project—measurement of your progress.
It’s easy to pat yourself on the back when your team comes up with a beautiful ad or commercial. It’s far and away something different if you can show that ad brought people to West Virginia to spend money which you can track directly to a destination.
People presume that being Commissioner of Tourism is all about having fun. While I did experience a lot of joy in that position, it was the hardest job I ever had. I did not spend days on the slopes or kayaking. If you do it right, you are behind a desk, on the phone, in your car or in the editing bay working to sell those experiences.
As you’ve heard me say many times—tourism isn’t about fun—it’s about business: A $4.9 billion business in the Mountain State. Make no mistake, every day I thought about that investment and the 46,000 jobs the industry supports. Our team worked late nights, weekends and holidays because peoples’ jobs are on the line. It was an awesome opportunity and one that I am forever grateful.
I’ve been so fortunate to serve the state with like-minded people who never watched the clock, who ate lunch at their desks to finish a column or to pitch an international reporter in a different time zone. They pushed me to be better and to work harder than I’ve ever worked.