CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Mountain State’s growing tourism industry calls for an expanding enterprise workforce to match it, and the launch of the first ever Governor’s School for Tourism will be able to help address just that.

State Tourism Secretary Chelsea Ruby joined Gov. Jim Justice during his regular media briefing last Wednesday to announce the new governor’s school that is expected to officially launch this summer.

“You know, with tourism booming in our state and getting better and better and better we need to train people,” Justice said. “We need to train people because these jobs are great jobs, and they’re great paying jobs.”

Ruby said the industry is expected to create an explosion of new tourism jobs. She said projections show 21,000 annual job openings in the next four years, and about half of them being in management level positions with salaries approaching $60,000 a year.

However, Ruby said the growth in the tourism industry is happening faster than they can build the workforce around it.

Chelsea Ruby, Secretary of WV Dept. of Tourism

To confront the issue, Ruby said the Governor’s School for Tourism was created to get young people inspired to go into the tourism industry in West Virginia, and it’s part of the Department of Tourism’s comprehensive workforce development program.

Ruby said since the governor’s schools were started back in 1984 with the Governor’s School for the Arts, the Justice administration makes the first to take on a school for tourism in the state’s history.

“We’ve rolled out several other schools over the years, but I would argue with anyone that this governor’s school on tourism is going to be the most fun,” she said.

Ruby said it will be a 10-day camp open to 9th and 10th grade students in the state.

She said they will visit every corner of the state and all of its tourism destinations, including two national parks and a number of state parks.

In addition, she said they will meet with people in all types of jobs in the tourism industry and give them an idea of how they operate.

“They’re going to meet with wildlife biologists, they are going to meet with people in the culinary arts industry, they are going to meet with hoteliers, they are going to meet with trail builders, they’re going to meet with people in museums, they’re really going to get a taste of what those jobs in West Virginia are like,” said Ruby.

The Governor’s School for Tourism is hosted by West Virginia University and supported by the WV Department of Education’s Division of Instruction and Career Engagement.

The school will accept one freshman or sophomore student from each county, as well as one student from the state’s five charter schools and a student from the WV School of the Deaf and the Blind.

Students must complete the application to enroll for the Governor’s School for Tourism by Fri., April 26. You can visit the WV Department of Education’s website to submit an application and learn more about the program.