Internet Tourism

By: Melissa Reynolds
By: Melissa Reynolds

If you need more information about river trips, ances are you'll turn to the Internet.

"When we first started out nobody knew about us we weren't in any of the search engines. Now, good days we get 100 hits a day that doesn't mean 100 customers, but certainly the more the better," Stephen Nichols says.

It's canoeing and whitewater rafting businesses that are really scoring big with the Web, Stephen Nichols says customers can see what it is.

"They're not sure what they're getting into and it gives them a free way to communicate and see if it's something they want to do," Nichols says.

"It's a great place where they can find instant information and usually a good website will have a lot of links so they can continue to cruise around," Allison Coonley says.

Allison Coonley says the Harrisonburg Rockingham Visitors Bureau Web site gets over 60,000 hits a month. She says they're looking for everything from a restaurant's hours to the location of the Dayton Farmers Market.

"I think they're really surprised there are so many things to do when they see it on the internet they see some beautiful images and I think it helps them get excited about their trip," Coonley says.

Not only that, it's inexpensive for the businesses.

"Two weeks of being on the radio is about the same as the entire cost to set up the internet website so it's definitely the more economical way to go," Nichols says.

Without it they wouldn't have the customers they have today.

"You almost have to have a presence, even if you're not big in it, to be a part of the market," Nichols says.

Last year West Virginia's Department of Tourism gave $1.7 million to river outfitting companies to develop Web sites.


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