Monday, September 26, 2016

Southwest Virginia towns turning to tourism to revitalize economies hurt by loss of coal jobs

Haysi, Va., is hoping to attract tourists and new businesses.
(Voice of America photo by Nadeem Yaqub) 
Appalachian mountain towns in Southwest Virginia hurt by the downturn in coal are hoping tourism will revitalize local economies, Nadeem Yaqub reports for Voice of America. Earl Gohl, federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, told Yaqub, "For the last 100 years or so many of these communities have had one source of employment, one source of income. And as coal has moved away and declined dramatically, now it’s important to take the next step and to work with counties to make this transition."

Cleveland, Va., has lost most of its businesses and all of its schools, Yaqub writes. "But what Cleveland does have that no downturn in the coal industry can touch is scenic mountain trails and the Clinch River, which runs through town. The local community, along with local and state partners, is implementing an action plan to develop tourism in the area. And recently, an entrepreneur opened a rental store for kayaking and rafting enthusiasts near the city’s Town Hall."

Other towns are thinking along the same lines, Yaqub writes. The nearby town of Haysi has been improving its infrastructure—new signs, paint, windows, doors, lighting—with the hopes of attracting visitors and businesses, while in Tazewell County, Virginia, a 37-mile trail is being developed for all-terrain vehicles near a mine site.

No comments: