Tourism Jobs Lagging, But Increases Expected – West Virginia Public Broadcasting

by | Oct 11, 2022 | Jobs

For some, West Virginia has long been a destination for outdoor activities. Visitors have come for skiing, hiking and whitewater rafting along with riding ATVs.While the pandemic shook up most of the world’s economies, including tourism, it actually gave things in the Mountain State a boost.According to a press release from Gov. Jim Justice’s office, West Virginia’s tourism industry is up 3.8 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels.Nationally, tourism is down 27 percent compared to 2019.Even with the increases in West Virginia, employment in the tourism industry has not kept up.According to Chelsea Ruby, the state’s Secretary of Tourism, employment often lags a couple years behind visitor spending.“Halfway through 2017, 2018, what we saw was traveler spending was growing really fast,” Ruby said. “We were outpacing the national rate of growth by about 58 percent. Well, then you get to 2019. And you see this, this huge increase, where employment was actually the highest it had been in the previous decade, because it was starting to catch up with that spending growth.”According to data from Workforce West Virginia, the leisure and hospitality sector employs almost 69,000 people. But that’s actually 4,000 fewer people than in 2011. And only about 5,000 more than in 2001.Ruby uses slightly different numbers representing only those who actually work in tourism and hospitality. Workforce West Virginia’s numbers include people who work in suppor …

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