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Linking Tourism Resources and Local Economic Benefits: A Spatial Analysis in West Virginia


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  • Jinyang Deng

    (Division of Forestry and Natural Resources, West Virginia University)

  • David Dyre
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    Tourism has been playing an increasingly important role in the economic development and promotion for the state of West Virginia. However, how tourism resources are spatially distributed across all the state’s 55 counties has not received much attention. This study could be among the first in West Virginia to create a tourism resource inventory database at the county level, and to spatially examine tourism resource distribution patterns across all counties, based on the tourism resource quantity measured by size, length, or number, as well as on the quality determined by the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) through surveys of 191 visitors. Based on the data collected, a four-level amenity index is created using the standard deviation method and mapped using GIS. The study indicates that nature-based tourism resources are largely concentrated in the eastern or central eastern part of West Virginia centering around Pocahontas County, while cultural resources do not exhibit a distinct clustering pattern. In addition, the cultural resource distribution pattern not only visually resembles that associated with visitors’ travel spending, but also has a statistically significant correlation with travel spending after controlling the spatial dependence. That being said, there is no such relationship that exists between natural tourism resources and travel spending, suggesting that more efforts are needed in the future to develop and market nature-based tourism in those counties with higher levels of natural tourism resources, but lower levels of visitor spending. It also implies that natural tourism is not a major contributor to the local economy for most counties. Rather, other forms of tourism activities such as gambling generated a large portion of travel/tourism related revenues, despite this contribution being only limited to a few counties.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Regional Research Institute, West Virginia University in its series Working Papers with number 200906.

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    Length: 18 pages
    Date of creation: 2009
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:rri:wpaper:200906

    Contact details of provider:
    Postal: 886 Chestnut Ridge Road, P.O. Box 6825, Morgantown, WV 26506-6825
    Phone: 304 293 2896
    Fax: 304 293 6699
    Web page:
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    Related research

    Keywords: economic development; tourism; spatial; analytic hierarchy process;

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    1. McGranahan, David A., 1999. "Natural Amenities Drive Rural Population Change," Agricultural Economics Reports 33955, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    2. Kwang-Koo Kim & David W. Marcouiller & Steven C. Deller, 2005. "Natural Amenities and Rural Development: Understanding Spatial and Distributional Attributes," Growth and Change, Gatton College of Business and Economics, University of Kentucky, vol. 36(2), pages 273-297.
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