Influencers tour

After riding the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System, three bloggers and four tourism freelance journalists gather for dinner at the restaurant at Buffalo Trail ATV Resort, Friday. According to Jamie Null, the group traveled to Bramwell and along the Hatfield-McCoy Trail in Mercer County where they visited an old coke oven.

PRINCETON — Mercer County kept seeing more tourists in 2019 and experiencing more economic impact from the dollars they spend on lodging and other necessities during their stays, according to the latest report from the Mercer County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“I’m going to go over a few things which we feel are great accomplishments from last year,” Jamie Null, executive director of the Mercer County Convention & Visitors Bureau, recently told the Mercer County Commission. “The biggest is that occupancy in Mercer County rose 10 percent over the course of the year, so right now we’re sitting at a 62 percent occupancy.”

The 10.1 percent increase means that Mercer County sold 20,956 more room nights in 2019 than it did in 2018, according to the bureau’s annual report. Every night in Mercer County, $52,660 is created in hotel revenue.

Null also reported that visitor spending increased 4.6 percent in 2019. Visitor spending reached $111.3 million in 2019 compared to $106.4 million in 2018.

Visitor spending generated $9 million in local and state taxes in 2019. There were 1,200 tourism jobs, and the earnings from those jobs amounted to $27.3 million; because of tourist spending in the region, each household paid $357 less in taxes, according to the bureau’s report. 

 “All that is national data coming from our chain hotels,” Null said. ATV resorts in the county do not report national statistics.  

Mercer County is seeing a return on increased marketing efforts, she stated. This means more people are traveling to the county.

The bureau’s website had 300,308 page views with 136,204 new users, according to the annual report. The website’s top pages included Lake Shawnee with 34,443 page views; Spring ATV with 26,459 pages views; and the calendar with 14,197 page views. There were 1,803 requests for visitor guides in 2019 compared to 740 in 2018.

Top states visiting the bureau’s website in 2019 included West Virginia with 39,781 visits; Virginia with 19,442 visits; the District of Columbia with 16,970 visits; and North Carolina with 10,883 visits. There were site visits from residents in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois and Tennessee, too. 

Many visitors come to Mercer County to ride on the Pocahontas Trail, the county’s local branch of the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System. Jeffrey Lusk, executive director of the Hatfield-McCoy Trails, WV Tourism Commission, said that working with the bureau has allowed the trail system to maximize its marketing budget.

“The local and regional CVB partnerships have been the core marketing tool for the trails and have resulted in a tremendous growth in ridership and visitation,” Lusk said. “I feel the future growth and success of the trails will continue to be built around these partnerships.”

— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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