Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


May 11, 2014

Tourism coordinator: A helpful Tazewell addition

— — Tourism is one of the fastest growing segments of our regional economy. And much of the success we’ve seen in recent years can be attributed to the Hatfield-McCoy Trail system.

Thousands of out-of-town visitors have been riding the six-county trail system for several years now, including the newly opened Pocahontas Trail near Bramwell in Mercer County, along with the popular Indian Ridge Trail system near Northfork in McDowell County.

Wisely hoping to seize upon the success of the southern West Virginia-based trail system, the Virginia-based Southwest Virginia Regional Recreational Authority is now developing the seven-county Spearhead Trail system. The local segment of the Spearhead Trail system is being developed in Tazewell County near the town of Pocahontas, Va.

Given the close proximity of the planned Spearhead Trail system in Pocahontas to the existing Hatfield-McCoy Trail system in Bramwell, there is certainly a great potential for additional tourism growth in the area. But it is important to remember that tourism has been a growing source of revenue and excitement in Tazewell County for several years now.

In 2012, tourism revenue for Tazewell County reached $48,460,763, which was a 2 percent increase over 2011. And local tourism-supported jobs in 2012 totaled 568 while local tourism-related taxes topped off at $647,573. Those are impressive numbers, and a testament to the regional tourism-based attractions already up and running in Tazewell County.

That’s why we are excited to hear that Tazewell County has now hired a new tourism director. David Woodard, who had previously worked at the Emma Yates Memorial Library in downtown Pocahontas, has been hired by the county Board of Supervisors as Tazewell County’s new tourism coordinator. He will work out of the visitor’s center at the Sanders House in Bluefield, Va.

“The whole idea of marketing tourism and being involved in events around the county, and promoting Tazewell County, just appealed to me,” Woodard, also an elected member of the county’s school board, said last week. “ And when I was in high school, I worked at and volunteered at the Pocahontas Exhibition Mine, and I guess since then, it’s been a passion.”

We too are certainly excited about the future for tourism growth not only in Tazewell County, but our region as a whole. But there is still much work to be done, including the continued push for necessary lodging and campground facilities to accommodate out-of-town visitors who will be riding the new Spearhead Trail system.

That’s why having a new tourism coordinator on the job will certainly help — and in the long run — it is a position that should certainly pay for itself.


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