The Historic Downtown Morgantown Audio Walking Tour (Tour) is a self-guided tour that focuses on Downtown Morgantown’s emblematic architecture and complex history. Currently, community members and visitors may acquire a guidebook and rent an MP3 player for the Tour at the Historic Clarion Hotel Morgan.
The Tour was created and launched by MSM in 2005, and as a result of technology’s rapid progression over the last nine years, the Tour’s technology, which was state of the art in 2005, has become outdated and the Tour has experienced a decrease in utilization throughout this time period.
It is the goal of our project to bring the Tour’s technology into 2014 and provide an attraction that creates an increased appreciation for Morgantown’s history and historic preservation efforts, while attracting heritage tourists to our downtown as a means of enhancing the local economy. In this sense, the Tour is a creative means of enhancing the economic growth and general welfare of Downtown Morgantown & the Historic Wharf District.
The Tour will entice community members and heritage tourists alike to transverse our downtown on foot, where many of the historic landmarks mentioned now house dining, shopping, entertainment, service and professional businesses. According to the City of Morgantown Downtown Strategic Plan 2010, “The future of economic growth in Downtown Morgantown will be dependent on increasing foot traffic and residential density.” This project will increase foot traffic and, thus, complete the goal of the Strategic Plan and this project.
Heritage tourism will also be important to the revitalization of our district. The Preservation Alliance of West Virginia found that the historic site visitor spends an average of $62 more per day than other travelers. Additionally, 90% visit with their families and 84% will return to visit the site again to bring others or will take more time at the site. For these reasons, heritage tourists are a group that MSM would like to attract as a means of enhancing the local economy.
According to the results of “Utilizing Heritage Resources for Economic Development” a market study that investigates the characteristics and interests of West Virginia’s rural cultural heritage tourists, “Self-guided tours or experiences that are well thought out and easy to follow with authentic and interesting information are how most of this tourist segment wishes to experience your places.” Thus, this project’s goal of increasing the accessibility and ease of use for the Tour is important for attracting these heritage tourists. The study also concluded that “once in a community, the recommendations from local people for attractions… are highly valued by these tourists.” Therefore, the project’s role in increasing local knowledge of the Tour will play an important part in generating participation.
All of this information supports the conclusion that MSM’s goal of developing an accessible and easy to use tour in our downtown will benefit the local economy substantially, enhancing the general welfare of our community.
If you, or someone you know, is interested in donating to this project, please contact us via the contact box below or call our offices at (304) 292-0168. To learn if your donation will qualify you for Neighborhood Investment Program state tax credits, please view our donation page.