Heritage Tourism Initiative History and
grant application of Spring 2003)
Preservation Alliance of West Virginia has been working for preservation
of our state’s historic resources for over 20 years. One of our main
efforts has been the development of a West Virginia Heritage Tourism
Initiative with the crucial assistance and funding from the Claude
Worthington Benedum Foundation.
initiative focused on two goals:
Develop a demonstration program to assist local communities in the
creation and implementation of heritage tourism programs in order to
build local capacity and provide economic development benefits.
Frontiers-to-Mountaineers was the demonstration area selected with five
counties participating in this program being: Monongalia, Preston,
Marion, Harrison and Lewis.
Make recommendations on a statewide organizational structure and work
towards establishing a statewide heritage tourism program to benefit the
West Virginia economy.
The initial stages of the
initiative involved developing partnerships statewide, investigating best
practices, successes and lessons from heritage tourism programs in other
states, introductory workshops, and choosing the pilot demonstration
demonstration effort accomplished the following:
Development of “Life and Times of Mountaineers” tourism product. The
product highlighted twenty heritage places that tell that region’s
history and a marketing campaign that included a four-color brochure,
travel shows and Internet promotions. Over 90,000 brochures have been
distributed with a reprint of an additional 50,000.
A Five County Heritage Survey that identified artists, performers and
others who can bring heritage stories alive with their talents. These
resources will be utilized in the development of other tourism product.
A Frontiers to Mountaineers Preservation Plan was completed that
assesses the heritage resources across the region for utilization in
future tourism products and identification of key resources that need
protection and/or preservation.
Frontiers to Mountaineers Interpretive project was launched with fifteen
sites chosen from thirty-five applicants to receive the assistance and
An economic impact study was developed that will allow for baseline data
comparison of visitors at selected sites.
Examples of other work can be found in past and current activities:
Statewide Heritage Tourism Conference that was held in 2002.
Statewide Steering Committee has been working to develop a statewide
effort. In addition to recommendations for structure of the future
program, the Steering Committee has participated in planning workshops
and sub-committee work to develop the program.
A second region that originally applied for the pilot region has moved
forward – with grant funding and partnerships, including WV Statewide
Initiative assistance – to develop the Appalachian Forest Heritage Area,
soon to be positioned to seek national heritage area designation.
Five Flexi Grant Workshops. These workshops on community development
through heritage tourism will be held in five distressed counties during
the first week in June.
Rural and Agri-tourism Conference to be held June of 2003.
of the above helped us in the goal to develop a permanent entity to house
the state’s heritage tourism program. After examining several
possibilities, it was determined by the Steering Committee that the West
Virginia Development Office, more specifically its Main Street Program,
made the most sense for this program because it can:
Connect its current economic development programs, grants and expertise
to this endeavor.
Utilize its extremely successful Main Street Program to provide
leadership, community contacts and methodology to enhance the program
Link more effectively with other state agencies especially Tourism,
Culture and History including the State Historic Preservation Office,
Agriculture, Education, Scenic Byway program State Parks, and many
Work with others on legislation that would assist communities and
counties in their heritage tourism efforts.
Establish a line item for heritage tourism in the budget process that
would, at least in part, provide for an ongoing effort and program
The Steering Committee
developed work plans and strategies that would lead to a smooth transition
to the Development Office. Unfortunately because of extreme economic
conditions impacting the state, it was determined that this was not the
time to fund a new state initiative with so many agencies facing serious
cutbacks. However, the Development Office remains committed to the
concept and hopes to eventually fund the program.
The Steering Committee
regrouped and made a series of decisions over the last five months in
order not to just maintain the state’s heritage tourism program but expand
its efforts. The most important decisions were:
West Virginia Main Street Office working with the Alliance would provide
the leadership for the development of the program with Main Street
The Potomac Heritage Partnership, a regional organization whose
organizational focus and expertise is heritage tourism and heritage
education, was retained to develop and manage the program.
The recognition that state funding in the form of a line item would
probably not be available until Fiscal Year 2005, therefore, funding was
needed from multiple sources to cover a 24-month time period from July
1, 2003 through June 30, 2005.
The establishment of a mission statement, core values and program areas
in order to focus their heritage tourism efforts and adopt a work plan
operate under certain definitions that provide clearer understanding of
terms and phrases.
Via grassroots’ research,
heritage tourism includes the following:
Historic places such as house museums, battlefields, historic districts
and certain events.
Architectural resources via architectural landmarks, historic districts
or vernacular structures.
Natural places including rural landscapes and natural landmarks
Traditions of our region, which includes oral history, certain
industries, music, foods, folklore and heritage, related events.
Appropriate recreational venues such as land and water trails.
consider rural heritage tourism as a subset of heritage tourism.
“Rural Heritage Tourism is defined by the countryside in which tourism
businesses or activities are found. In the broadest sense the villages,
landscape, wildlife, community and cultural life, built and natural
heritage are all important assets which serves to attract visitors—and
visitors revenue to the countryside.”
“Agri-tourism is a subset of a larger industry called rural tourism that
includes farm stays, off-site farmer markets, non-profit agricultural
tours and other hospitality businesses that attract visitors to the
countryside. Agricultural Tourism includes a set of economic and social
activities that occur and link travel with products, services and
experiences of agriculture.”
Utilize West Virginia’s historic
and natural resources to establish sustainable heritage tourism programs
for the state, multi-county efforts and communities with the dual purposes
of stimulating economic opportunities for communities and businesses and
the preservation and conservation of these resources.
Provide authentic and entertaining heritage tourism product that will
Retain a preservation/conservation ethic in order to maintain, protect
and celebrate the resources that make for a successful heritage tourism
Assist the state, communities and counties in incorporating heritage
tourism as part of their economic development strategies.
Encourage partnerships and regional cooperation to provide a stronger
Establish, implement and monitor measurements of success for heritage
tourism which include indicators of economic stimulus, organizational
growth and leadership development.
Incorporate strategies that provide the best opportunities for
sustainable heritage tourism programs.
Seek to partner with existing organizations or agencies that are already
offering programs that will meet heritage tourism needs.
Work with others to utilize heritage resources as a teaching platform in
West Virginia schools and other institutions.
Send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or comments about this
Copyright © 2005 Preservation Alliance of West Virginia