Halloween will be behind us by the time you read this. Still, it is a good time to point out that there is a trick to the being a Destination Location. The proverbial trick is to have a Snowshoe Resort and IMBA Ride Center drawing people from around the world. Silver status has delivered a treat for Poca-Haunt-us County. Hotel-Motel tax is up 18 percent over the previous 12 months. GOLD status will Treat Poca-Haunt-us even better.
The Snowshoe Highlands Ride Center is currently one of only two Silver Level Ride Centers on the East Coast. This designation has propelled Pocahontas County toward being a mountain biking destination – and specifically Marlinton. Imagine being not just a regional destination, but with GOLD, we will be on a track toward being a global destination.
Through the HubCAP technical assistance funding, Marlinton worked with Downstream Strategies to create a Bike Tourism Action Plan to bring more people to the Snowshoe Highlands trails by way of Marlinton. The team has created a sustainable plan to grow the impact on the community over the next year, two years, five years and even 20 years.
The next steps to move the ideas forward and make things happen will be getting local businesses and potential entrepreneurs to see the advantages of being a Destination Location – and this may take some doing.
Last week’s Stakeholders meeting at Knapp Creek Trout lodge was a great meeting. The only problem was that too few new faces attended. If you were not there, you missed a lot more than the pulled-pork. WVU staff came to Marlinton to assist with an outdoor video presentation of facts, figures, and the real opportunities that Monday-Lick Trail will bring.
Outdoor biking draws a younger clientele. The younger generation is moving to areas where they want to live and play. Younger couples produce families that can replenish our schools and repopulate our county. More people require more goods and services. More citizens as utility customers spread the cost of maintaining those utilities. If we all pull together, this program can be a game-changer for our communities and the county.
I will admit, seeing Marlinton and Pocahontas County as Trailheads takes a bit of a mind-shift. If you are in a Destination Location or on a route to a Destination Location, your business will be a part of the Outdoor Recreation Economy. Trails will bring visitors and tourists here. But it takes hospitality to bring them back or help them decide to stay.
Get ready. Now is the time to contact Cara Rose at the Convention and Visitors Bureau and schedule a one-hour hospitality training for your employees. It will be good for your business. It can become the foundation for the Outdoor Recreation Economy, locally, regionally, and statewide.
As the Minnehaha Springs kiosk points out, “Marlinton is worth the extra mile.”