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West Virginia tourism launches new campaign to rebrand state's image

West Virginia officials made an announcement Wednesday about the state's new tourism advertising campaign. Photo shows the New River Gorge. (Burst/Angel)

West Virginia Tourism Commissioner Chelsea Ruby and Gov. Jim Justice announced a new tourism campaign Wednesday that aims to rebrand the state’s image and get visitors to have a sense of longing.

“It’s going to center around rebranding West Virginia with the song every single person everywhere knows us,” Justice said in a news conference.

The governor has been working with the tourism office to work on significantly changing the way the world sees and thinks of West Virginia. After research and testing images with people, the tourism office completed the campaign.

Ruby said based on research from the last year, 86 percent of people who come to West Virginia come back. In 2017, only 14 percent of people who came to West Virginia were first time visitors, she said. The goal is to get more first-time visitors.

Ruby said what sets West Virginia apart from other states is that it’s not overly polished or congested, it has a unique way of life, creates a sense of the unknown and there are lots of things to see and do that are unique.

In a promotional video, a version of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” is played over scenic views of the state. The West Virginia Tourism Office said in a news release that the state’s blue skies, towering mountains, lush green foliage and unspoiled nature are the inspiration for the new tourism campaign.

“The lyrics tell our story,” Ruby said. "It all builds up to what the governor was talking about – this feeling of longing for West Virginia.”

The tourism office held a photo contest while building the campaign. Some of those photos are used in the promotional materials.

The news conference can be viewed in the player below.

Justice has repeatedly said that development of the state’s tourism industry is one of the keys to the state’s future economic success.

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