By Associated Press - Wednesday, May 18, 2016

LANSING, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia’s whitewater rafting industry saw a 3 percent increase in visitors last year compared to 2014.

State Division of Natural Resources figures show traffic on the New, Gauley and other West Virginia rivers totaled 134,082 customers in 2015, up 3,900 customers from the year before.

But that’s down significantly from 2009 to 2011, when more than 150,000 rafters tackled West Virginia’s whitewater annually.

Mirroring downturns in the travel and leisure industries that followed the 2001 terrorist attacks, West Virginia rafting companies have struggled to approach the peak season of 1995, when there were more than 257,000 visitors.

But Dave Arnold of outfitter Adventures on the Gorge says low gas prices have made traveling more affordable, and the industry is gearing up for the start of the summer rafting season.

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