Berkeley County Council to consider passenger rail service marketing as way to boost tourism

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MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (WDVM) — Berkeley County might be West Virginia’s fastest-growing, but the county council has no problem growing even more.

The county council heard Thursday from Mark Jordan, executive director of the Berkeley County-Martinsburg Convention and Visitors Bureau. He and the council see a tremendous asset in the “MARC” and AMTRAK passenger rail service into the metropolitan Washington, D.C. market. With more promotion, Jordan says, the region can attract more tourism.

“It’s a huge driving point for Berkeley County,” explains Jordan. “It’s a major asset for us.”

But it is more than just bringing those tourist dollars into the region that helps with the business. The rail service is something of an industry unto itself, as Council Member Elaine Mauk can attest.

“The MARC train,” says Mauch “is a very important asset to Berkeley County. People fail to realize it’s not just the ridership. It’s all the other things that people don’t see, such as the fueling station, the number of employees that work there that work on the train system.”

It’s not as if capitalizing on this transportation asset is a sudden realization. A year ago the State of West Virginia made a commitment to back the rail system as a way to bring more visitors from the Washington area to the Mountain State. But within months of unveiling those plans, Covid decided to pay us all a visit and that put the brakes on everything.

“Hopefully post-pandemic,” says Jordan “it will pick up speed and we’ll start advertising with the state’s help.”

And Jordan says once Covid decides it has worn out its welcome, the state — with the county’s support — will put some financial backing behind ride-the-rails advertising, promotion, and marketing campaign. Meanwhile, the council could consider Jordan’s request in the coming weeks.

And Councilwoman Mauck notes that the Washington, D.C. market is one of the nation’s most affluent and she would love to see residents there spend their money in Berkeley County!

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