The Portsmouth Scioto County Visitors Bureau (PSCVB) announced the retirement of Executive Director Kim Bauer back in September. She had been with the organization for 15 years and they wanted to take time finding the best possible replacement moving forward.
In that position, Bauer had been instrumental in promoting and assisting in the implementation of a multitude of events, activities and businesses that have attracted both local and visitors to our community. Some of those included River Days, Miss Ohio Pageant, annual Senior Games, TOSRV and more. She also produced and distributed an annual Scioto County Visitors Guide with information about restaurants, motels, retail, historical locations, local maps and other information of interest to tourists.
After months of searching, it was announced Nate Welch would be assuming the position.
Welch comes from a 10-year branch of tourism, but something slightly different from a traditional take.
“I have had what some would say is a non-traditional career path,” Welch said. “My career has been with the National Park Service (NPS), working as a park ranger for the past 10 years. I worked at a variety of places, some you would recognize and some you probably wouldn’t. I began my time with the NPS at Cuyahoga Valley National Park near Cleveland in 2011 and have moved all over the country ever since.”
Other places Welch has worked includes John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Timpanogos Cave National Monument, Coronado National Memorial, Zion National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Pecos National Historical Park, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, and, most recently, along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia.
“Most of my job within the NPS has been as an interpretive park ranger. My job entailed interacting with visitors, assisting them with orientation and information about the park,” Welch said. “I was also providing public programs for visitors along with developing interpretive media such as website articles and social media posts for parks. I feel that my skillset translates perfectly into the bureau as I have engaged with visitors and have an understanding of what visitors need and want from a place like us. My digital skills will also be an asset to the bureau so we can better utilize our digital resources to set up a more robust tourism campaign.”
Welch has been taking appointments, walking downtown Portsmouth to orientate himself, shaking hands, and getting to know a community he will become a voice of.
“Being I have only been in the job a little over a month, I don’t have much to say quite yet, but what I can say is that I am very excited about the opportunities that are on the horizon,” Welch explained. “I think Portsmouth and Scioto County as a whole have a lot of unique areas that can and should attract tourists from around the region. While there is a lot of work that needs to be done on our end as the bureau, I know that I won’t be able to do this on my own. I need to have community communication and collaboration to make this town a sustainable tourist destination.”
Welch believes that Scioto County is a place worth visiting and that a proper campaign can really attract people to an area that has witnessed much development—especially in regard to outdoors activities. He does see obstacles in the future, however, especially when it comes to engaging with locals and getting them to see themselves as worthy of tourism.
“I think there is a lot of potential in the area to grow in tourism. There are lots of awesome opportunities for not only tourists, but also locals to explore! To that end, our biggest strength is the massive number of recreational opportunities that have been untapped that could potentially help our tourist economy grow. However, I do feel we have unfortunately left out the local population out of the conversation and therefore we are doing a big disservice to our local communities. To that end, I think we should be working to market our unique opportunities to the local communities just as much, if not more, than to our visitors themselves.”
The immediate focus of Welch is going to be addressing the local community before engaging with outsiders.
“The big focus for myself and bureau is to address the local community members and how they themselves can explore their own backyard,” Welch said. “With the many opportunities Scioto County has to offer, I think it is imperative that we explore them ourselves to understand what awesome and unique things we have available so we can pass along the fun information to our families and friends.”
Welch is still new, but is starting to formulate what his long-term goals may be as well, outside of expanding the bureau to focus more on the local community member.
“My long-term goal for the bureau is to constantly grow our area, hopefully, as a major tourist destination rivaling those with similar activities and opportunities,” claimed Welch. “My hope is that, as tourism increases in our area, so do opportunities for economic growth and development.”
Meetings continue to be planned, corners of the county are being discovered, and opportunities to engage locals and visitors are expressing themselves as Welch takes each day as a learning opportunity. He does give appreciation for the support he receives, which he says is instrumental in his future success as an executive director.
“On a final note, I’d like to say again that I can’t do my job effectively and adhere to the mission of the bureau without the support of all of our community members,” Welch claimed. “Whether you are in Minford, Portsmouth, or anywhere in between, I want to make sure that we are supporting each other in a way that boldens our community to become a place where people can visit and enjoy the perks that we have the opportunity to enjoy every day.”
Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved