WVU Extension Specialist –
Rural Tourism Development
Doug Arbogast has long felt a connection with West Virginia and the opportunities its rich natural resources provide. In fact, the opportunity to become a whitewater raft guide on the Cheat River first brought the Pennsylvania native to the Mountain State.
While working as a river guide in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, Arbogast studied at West Virginia University. He earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental geoscience in 2001 and a master’s in recreation, parks and tourism resources in 2005.
After working privately to develop sustainable tourism, Arbogast joined the WVU Extension Service Community Resources and Economic Development unit in May 2012.
Today he still pursues his passion to develop and promote sustainable tourism throughout the state, but now from a number of angles, with a host of partners and through the state’s flagship, land-grant University.
“What drew me to West Virginia is its unique and distinct tourism product,” he said. “We have abundant natural resources and both a distinct culture and society—the perfect ingredients to attract responsible travelers from across the globe seeking an authentic tourism experience.”
Arbogast and other Extension community development specialists work with communities to build their capacity to incorporate tourism into their local economy. The team also identifies and maps out tourism assets, like outdoor adventure areas, music venues and historical downtown attractions.
“From there we help communities understand where the gaps are in activities and services that could attract visitors, provide benefit to local residents and preserve the natural environment tourism depends on,” he explained.
The team takes three major factors into account when assessing tourism opportunities across the state: the economics of the opportunity and both its environmental and social impacts on the area. Referred to as the “triple bottom line,” they weigh each factor equally and provide guidance on the strategies to best optimize the resources available.
The Extension team isn’t alone in its mission, though. WVU Extension is partnering with the WVU Davis College, College of Business and Economics, and Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism. By using the latest research-based knowledge, strategies, and technology to support communities engaged in tourism development WVU Extension brings more ideas to the table in a constantly evolving industry.
You can reach Arbogast at 304-293-8686, or by email.