The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

May 28, 2013

Be prepared

The Register-Herald

— “Be prepared.”

To be nice.

To be cordial.

To be accommodating.

To be hospitable.

To welcome tens of thousands of additional visitors to our region this summer.

“Be prepared,” the motto of the Boy Scouts of America, also serves as a great reminder to the residents of southern West Virginia. It’s going to be a busy time, as we welcome the multitude of attendees of the 2013 Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Reserve as well as the folks who will pour in for the YMCA Friends of Coal Auto Fair, the fourth edition of our “Best in Class tournament” award-winning PGA TOUR FedEx Cup event, The Greenbrier Classic, and the dozens of other summer activities that our area regularly hosts.

These are all marquee events for our state and region. While we trumpet ourselves as an outstanding destination for tourism, we must also remember that it’s more than just putting up an “open for business” sign in our windows.

One of the main reasons we’re in this position to have a great tourism summer is because of our reputation for outstanding hospitality and our track record of a commitment to providing excellent volunteers.

Let us always be mindful of that.

While it may be tempting to complain about the long lines at the gas pumps and area restaurants and increased traffic on our roadways — keep it mind the economic boon this summer will mean to our state.

Keeping a smile on our faces and a kind word on our lips will speak volumes to the out-of-town visitors.

For many, it may be their first impression of West Virginia.

In fact, you might be the first face of southern West Virginia hospitality to someone.

“There’s going to be a lot of traffic in Beckley and on the Turnpike,” Jim Meadows, the Turnpike’s maintenance director, told the West Virginia Parkways Authority in a special meeting last week. He added: “We’re expecting a bus every 35 seconds at our tollbooths.”

We are getting ready for a great influx of people in our region with all of the infrastructure preparations and emergency precautions that we can muster.

But let us not forget to accompany that with a great, helpful attitude, one that will impact a visitor’s experience to West Virginia in a positive manner.

Our hope is that after this summer’s events, folks will want to visit “Almost Heaven” more often.