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West Virginia’s Rivers May Be Wild, But Fewer People Know About Them

West Virginia's white water rafting industry is heavily dependent on out-of-state tourism, but the state is spending far less on advertising than its neighbors. (ben loehrke/Flickr)
West Virginia's white water rafting industry is heavily dependent on out-of-state tourism, but the state is spending far less on advertising than its neighbors. (ben loehrke/Flickr)

The river rafting industry in West Virginia has hit some rough water. Tour companies were at the state capital in Charleston this week, asking lawmakers to spend more on the state’s advertising budget.

A state program to fund advertising has fallen from $23 million in 2004 to less than $3 million this year — just a fraction of what nearby states are spending. The rafting industry says that means potential customers in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida aren’t even considering West Virginia in their vacation plans.

But finding more money for the state’s advertising budget will be tough. West Virginia’s all-important coal industry is flagging and revenues from coal severance taxes are down.

Dave Arnold, who operates white water rafting trips and other adventure tourism in West Virginia, discusses the advertising woes with Here & Now’s Peter O’Dowd.

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