Director Welch reflects on first year in local tourism


SCIOTO COUNTY— It’s been a year since the Portsmouth Daily Times sat down and spoke with Portsmouth Scioto County Visitors Bureau (PSCVB) Executive Director Nate Welch who, at the time of our last interview, was only on the job for a month and reflecting on his new position, as well as his past experiences that would lend themselves well to his new mission.

With over a year under his belt now, he is better positioned in his expertise of the region and has quickly become a friend to many community organizers who have leaned on him to grow their services in the past 14 months. For many, it’s hard to think of a time before Welch was such an instrumental partner in everything and even stranger to realize he is a recent transplant and the love he has shown the job isn’t stemmed from growing up in the community he serves all his life.

Welch came to Scioto County with a 10-year history in tourism, but something slightly different from a traditional take.

“I have had what some would say is a non-traditional career path,” Welch explained last year. “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 had worked included 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.

“I think I fit pretty well in regard to the tourism opportunities that are growing in our region, especially with the outdoors,” Welch said. “Just last week, on March 2, we had an expo that was focused on outdoor recreation, and it was a hit. We had people asking what we had to offer and were genuinely optimistic to hear what opportunities we have and what we have to offer. Some had visited and some said they soon would, so, the opportunities are there. Being a former park ranger, and working in the outdoor sector, I know people love these things. This is especially true on the east coast, where there are opportunities in bounty and people are sick of being indoors and want to be exploring and doing new things in new places.”

Welch started early, taking many appointments, walking downtown Portsmouth to orientate himself, shaking hands, and getting to know a community he will become a voice of by volunteering and joining many board and planning meetings.

“When I came in, being a transplant, I feel like some people may have been concerned I would know less or maybe see things in a negative light that had been looked at before,” Welch reflected. “When I started, I kind of treated it like any park job I took previously. I learned what experiences our visitors have available to them, from hiking and biking and kayaking to the festivals, Final Friday concerts and even things like the Saint Patrick’s Day parade quickly coming up. These things are experiences that our visitors and residents alike should experience. From an outsider perspective, some may have seen it as a hindrance, but I used it as a positive.”

It allowed him to accomplish a lot quickly, specifically with digital products.

“I feel pretty confident in the direction we’re moving in. A lot has been accomplished in the past year that needed attention, such as our website and social media following,” Welch claimed. “We spent the past year really getting our digital assets built. Our social media has been ramped up, we launched our new website. This stuff really puts us out there for every generation. I think these improvements to digital assets are my biggest accomplishment to date.”

Moving forward, Welch said that he and his board have many goals to address.

“I have a couple goals. One is to monitor current trends and keep an eye on how our marketing is going. I want to see if we can grasp some of the younger generations. I also want to pull in more of our local residents and make sure they know what is going on, so they can be proper advocates locally and abroad,” Welch said. “I also want to work on more digital advertising. Finally, I want to emphasis even greater on collaboration with these groups that are doing so much good. So, I’ll be looking at collaboration, communication, and watching the trends of our current efforts and campaigns.”

In 14 months, Welch has been an active participant in planning events, working events, and attending them. He has sat in on meetings and involved himself in a very hands-on way.

“I’ve enjoyed watching Portsmouth and Scioto County grow in this year alone. We have a lot of new businesses popping up, new attractions being launches, better collaborations; it’s been a welcoming sight,” Welch said.

Of course, as with most organizations like the Bureau, Welch is not an island. He has a very involved board that helps make all of the work possible.

“My board is amazing and do a lot of good stuff. They all represent different areas of the community and properly reflect the area geographically and do a lot to make our work possible,” Welch said. “It’s been great leaning on them in this transition.”

While his first year was a success, Welch says he is only getting started and wants to continue working hard to serve the community that trusts him.

“I just want to congratulate everyone bringing visitors here and offering the community a reason to celebrate,” Welch said. “I extend an invitation to anyone to reach out to me if I can help. If you’re in the community, get out and explore. Get out there and enjoy what we have to offer to all our visitors.”

Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2024 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.

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