West Virginia

Strengthening destination partnerships and promoting economic diversification in the creation of new heritage, cultural, and recreational tourism gateways and corridors.

  • Client: Region 2 Planning and Development Council
  • Partners: The Trasher Group
  • Project Duration: May 2019 – October 2019

Project Description

Through this program, Solimar worked with regional stakeholders to conduct a tourism development Market Strategy and Economic Feasibility Study for Interstate 64 (Exit 8) and along the WV State Route 152 to further regional economic diversification, connect key tourism hubs along WV152, and to support the construction of a new West Virginia Welcome Center at Exit 8. Solimar will perform tourism assessment, business feasibility, market performance and economic impact analyses for the identified tourism hubs and projects along WV152. The KYOVA Mobility Study and initial stakeholder interviews recommended including further research of an Exit 8 Appalachian Heartland Welcome Center as a supporting gateway to the WV152 tourism corridor, and as a focal branding and promotional attraction for the state’s unique Appalachian heritage and tourism attractions.

The Projects (Heritage Farm Museum & Village, proposed Hatfield-McCoy ATV Trail Expansion, and a new visitor center/welcome center) have been identified as the priority attractions for in-depth marketing / economic feasibility and location site analysis, while the Hubs (Beech Fork State Park, East Lynn Lake, Cabwaylingo State Forest, Rustic Ravines, the Huntington Museum of Art, WestEdge Factory and Central City Antique District) will be assessed for their overall current tourism contribution, future potential and economic impact.

Major Activities

  • Desk Research, Program Planning, and Orientation: Prior to the fieldwork, the consultancy conducted a thorough research program of the Exit 8 interchange, the WV152 tourism corridor and the relevant studies to compile the information necessary for the fieldwork engagement to be consolidated and summarized into an Inception Report
  • For Phase 2, the consultancy traveled to Huntington / WV152 to assess specified tourism attractions and engage with key leaders to develop insight and data for the study’s market definition and financial feasibility objectives. Information was collected on target market segments, traveler services available, activity and benefit segmentation, and product offer potential.
  • With the fieldwork, data and conceptual visioning completed in Phase 2, Solimar began the consolidated feasibility analysis and report writing for the draft Study Report.
  • For the final phase, Solimar returned to Huntington / WV152 to share the draft study report and obtain feedback and input from project stakeholders involved in previous phases. In addition to finalizing the draft report, the consultant also worked with stakeholders to create a roadmap framework for WV152 tourism success which will include an advocacy plan addressing the framework’s key tourism corridor and welcome center recommendations.

Anticipated Results

  • Appalachian Heartland Initiative Tourism Feasibility Study & Tourism Development Framework including a brochure type executive summary for distribution to key stakeholders, and an advocacy PPT presentation that summarizes this study and highlights important points for stakeholders.

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“We rely confidently on Solimar's deep technical experience and professionalism as tourism consultants. You always are exceeding our expectations.”
Leila Calnan, Senior Manager, Tourism Services Cardno Emerging Markets

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