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Columbia Business Monthly

S.C. Tourism Continues to Grow

Feb 21, 2018 09:44AM ● By Kathleen Maris

Tourism in South Carolina is at least a $21.2 billion industry that supports one in every 10 jobs in the state and generates about $1.6 billion in state and local taxes, according to figures released by the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism.

The new economic impact was announced at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism and Travel on Hilton Head Island, and represents business activity for the calendar year 2016, which is up 4.7 percent from 2015.

While an analysis for data in 2017 is not yet complete, indicators hint at even greater growth, which would be the fifth consecutive year of tourism expansion in the state, said Duane Parrish, director of the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism.

Parrish said year-end hotel revenue for 2017 increased 6.2 percent over 2016, outpacing growth averages nationally and in the South Atlantic region. Since 2012, RevPAR (revenue per available room, the most reliable measurement of tourism’s impact in South Carolina) has increased by more than 41 percent.

Those increases happened across the state, including in non-traditional tourism destinations in rural or undiscovered areas, he said. Parrish credits the agency’s Undiscovered South Carolina marketing initiative anchored by the “Satisfy Your Thirst,” Chef Ambassadors, and “Fish in SC” campaigns, as well as local efforts that placed a heavy impact on their economies, including:

·       The eclipse in August 2017

·       The UCI BMX World Championships in Rock Hill

·       Post-season NCAA tournaments in Greenville and Columbia

·       Golf overall (statistics compiled by Golf Tourism Solutions showed a 4.1 percent increase in the number of rounds played at member courses in the Grand Strand)

·       Film production such as the DirectTV series Mr. Mercedes and the new Halloween movie