Greetings friends and partners,
These days, in the midst of the upheaval around us, uncertainty seems to be the only certainty we have, but I continue to be uplifted by the courage and strength of our industry these past seven months.
I am confident we in the travel industry will adapt and preserve, as we have before. Normal will look different, but travel and tourism will continue to be a stabilizing force for people, communities, and economies. It will be the rebound of our industry that will help fuel a robust national economy, create new jobs, revive small businesses, and bolster tax revenues for local and state municipalities.
That’s why — amid a pandemic, economic challenges, and social unrest — the Travel South USA Board of Directors met last month in West Virginia. Part in-person, part virtual, we met to transact the business our organization that has held tight for the past 55 years and discuss the business of leading the tourism sector in the South.
Over the course of the last few months, our group has been working on a comprehensive strategic planning project with The Coraggio Group. Their team has helped to shape the strategy and organizational change for clients such as Visit California, Travel Oregon, and San Diego CVB, along with Adidas.
We were planning this project before the pandemic and decided to go forward — not despite the challenges, but because of them. Travelers and the industry are navigating a “new normal” daily. How will we meaningfully respond, connect, and provide value?
Team leaders Chris Harder and Matthew Landkamer helped lead us through an intensive review of the very DNA of our brand. It involved surveys, stakeholder interviews, insight reporting, and task force meetings. We reimagined our vision, mission, values, and positioning. We also identified imperatives, objectives, and initiatives that will guide us through not just the current challenges, but for the next three to five years.
The word “coraggio” means courage. The symbolism is not lost on me. It takes courage to see beyond the moment. Our roadmap is a living, breathing document that will continue to adapt as the situations warrant. United, we will work our plan and plan our work.
I want to take a moment to thank the many tourism professionals engaged with the project. Your time, input, and yes, courage, contributed to a vision that will bring a bit of joy back to people’s lives — and prosperity back to our states, partners, and region.
My best regards,
Commissioner, West Virginia Tourism & Chair
Travel South USA Board of Directors