BLUEWELL — Sampling the sights and sounds Mercer County offers its visitors and sending those impressions across the country was the goal Friday of visiting bloggers and freelance writers sharing their tourist experiences.
Three bloggers and four tourism freelance journalists started their day Friday with breakfast at the Blue Spoon Cafe in Bluefield, Executive Director Jamie Null of the Mercer County Convention and Tourism Bureau said. Their itinerary took the guests to local stops and Mercer County’s branch of the Hatfield-McCoy ATV Trail.
“We had breakfast in Bluefield, had the Bramwell walking tour with Betty Goins of the Bramwell Theater Corp and lunch at the Corner Shop, then one-and-a half to two hours on the Pocahontas Trail,” Null said. “There were great riding conditions with lots of mud holes. They got to see a coke oven and got to take some photos on scenic overlooks.”
The guests will visit Princeton today and have breakfast at the Appalachian Coffee House on Mercer Street before heading to their next West Virginia destination, Null said. This tour was set up by the West Virginia Office of Tourism.
“Influencers on social media have an outstanding reach,” Null said. “Some of them specialize in travel, so they’re able to introduce a destination to hundreds of thousands of people; so it gives us a new and effective way to market and advertise. This is the type of marketing that will help enhance our image and showcase what West Virginia has to offer.”
The guests and their hosts stayed at Buffalo Trail in Bluewell and ended their day with dinner there. Jeffrey Lusk, executive director of the Hatfield-McCoy Regional Recreation Authority, said hosting the visitors was another way to market the local tourism industry. Television shows and other media help showcase the area.
“They (potential tourists) want to read about somebody else’s experiences,” Lusk said.
Gordon Lusk, the owner of Buffalo Trail, said that many of his guests come from outside the area.
“I think everybody’s been here from every state,” he estimated. “I’ve actually had people from Hawaii.”
Lusk remembered one family that met at Buffalo Trail had converged there from across the United States. The parents came there from Hawaii and one of their children came from upper New York state Another son had traveled there from Georgia.
One of visitors who took the Mercer County tour, Sarah Beisbier, said she was impressed how passionate business owners were about what they offered their guests.
“We’re told that West Virginians are extremely nice people,” she said. “As a first timer, I felt extremely welcome in the state.”
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