(WKBN) – The pandemic has put the brakes on a lot of road trips and vacation plans, but wanderers need not worry because there’s a lot to do in the state of Ohio and its Appalachian region, according to Ohio’s Development Services Agency.
“Lots to see and do in a really large area of the state of Ohio in a place where we know there are a lot of small businesses that could really use our help,” said Lydia Mihalik, director of the Ohio Development Services Agency.
The agency invests about $1 billion a year into Ohio.
“We do a lot of grant programs, we funnel a lot of money from the federal government into communities throughout the state, and we’re also the home to Tourism Ohio,” Mihalik said.
Tourism Ohio promotes the things people can do in Ohio and its brand is “Ohio. Find It Here.”
“We like to say that with Ohio’s diverse landscapes and different cultures and, of course, it’s a very big state, no matter what you’re looking for, you can find it here in Ohio,” Mihalik said.
She said when the pandemic hit, they knew that Tourism Ohio had to change how they promoted tourism in Ohio.
“We went to work right away at looking at things that we could do to be supportive of local, small businesses,” Mihalik said. “They’re the backbone of our communities, and they’ve been doing tremendous things for decades all across the state. We really doubled down and made sure we were showcasing all of the small restaurants, and small retailers, and different attractions and businesses, really, across the state.”
In addition to promoting those businesses, Tourism Ohio wanted to make sure visitors also stayed safe.
“So really ‘Ohio. Find It Here.’ was one of the first states to really implement the safety measures that are necessary in order to help protect all of us from COVID-19,” said Mihalik. “We featured face masks, face coverings, we showed people social distancing, we promoted the washing of the hands. It was in an effort to really build some consumer confidence, and for folks to get back out there as we did our responsible restart in the state of Ohio and frequent those local small businesses.”
And there’s a lot to do, especially in the Appalachian region, which is a 32-county region spanning from Lake Erie down to the Ohio River.
“It’s a tremendously, again, diverse landscape,” said Mihalik. “We really wanted to make sure we were promoting what a treasure the region actually is to the entire state.”
There’s something for everyone, from wine sommeliers to history buffs to those who enjoy the great outdoors. It’s all within a day’s drive.
“Really, if you’re looking for incredible wine country, you can go up to Ashtabula… if you’re looking for a historical perspective on the state of Ohio, you can start down in Marietta. If you’re looking for incredible places to do trail riding and hiking and horseback riding and kayaking and canoeing, really anything that you’re looking for, you can do that in the Hocking Hills,” Mihalik said.
No matter what you’re looking for, you can find it at ohio.org.