Did West Virginia have its best tourism year ever in 2022, as Gov. Jim Justice said recently?
In a Sept. 12 post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Justice, a Republican, said, “2022 was the biggest tourism year ever in West Virginia, and the numbers are absolutely incredible.”
The governor’s office and the West Virginia Tourism Board’s press office did not respond to inquiries from PolitiFact West Virginia about Justice’s statement.
However, we looked through data archived on the board’s website, going back to 2000. We found that Justice is right by some metrics, but not others.
The clearest evidence supporting Justice’s statement is traveler spending in the state.
For 2022, the last year with full available data, travelers spent $4.9 billion in West Virginia. That’s up 2.1% from $4.8 billion in 2021, and slightly higher than the previous record, of a bit over $4.8 billion, set in 2012.
However, two other West Virginia Tourism Board metrics did not set records in 2022.
Tourism-supported jobs in the state fell 7.2% from 47,600 in 2021 to 44,400 in 2022. The 2022 level marked the lowest number since 2007.
And tax revenue from tourism fell 4.7%, from $791 million in 2021 to $754 million in 2022.
Justice said, “2022 was the biggest tourism year ever in West Virginia.”
Spending by travelers to West Virginia set a record in 2022. However, tourism-supported jobs fell to its lowest level since 2007, and tax revenue from tourism fell slightly from 2021 levels.
We rate the statement Half True.