South Carolina Governor Cites Golf as Key to State’s Economic Vitality
National and international marketing of South Carolina as a major tourism destination is the main strategy to grow the tourism industry across the state, Gov. Nikki Haley said.
“We are seeing increases in rentals, increases in rates and increases in occupancy levels,” Haley said during the Governor’s Conference on Tourism and Travel Tuesday in Greenville. “We want to continue to sell to the rest of the country and the world how great of a place South Carolina is to visit.”
Natural resources are a major asset to S.C.’s tourism industry, from the whitewater rafting and mountains of the Upstate to the beaches of the Lowcountry, as well as the camping and golfing opportunities in-between. Haley said in addition to the downtown areas of cities across the state, bed and breakfasts and state parks in rural communities need more visual marketing to attract visitors.
More than 200 S.C. tourism leaders gathered at the state’s largest annual tourism conference to discuss the industry’s impact on the state’s economy and ways to market the state. Attendees split into break-out groups to learn and brainstorm. Attendees also did a walking tour of downtown.
While the recession can impact people’s decision to travel, Haley said this could be an opportunity for Charleston, Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head to attract tourists from neighboring states for vacations or conferences who don’t wish to travel very far for a getaway.
Haley noted several key tourism attractors set in South Carolina. The Heritage Golf Tournament set for April 9-15 in Hilton Head secured another sponsor. The 2012 PGA Championship will be held Aug. 9-12 on Kiawah Island. Charleston was ranked as No. 1 nationwide for the tourism destination, according to Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards for 2011.
As for Greenville County, the Greenville Convention and Visitors Bureau reported that it hosts 4.9 million annual visitors, averaging about 13,600 visitors per day. This resulted in the creation of 11,900 jobs in 2010, up .6% from 2009.
The CVB reports that visitors spent $957 million in expenditures in 2010, up from 9.7% in 2009.
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