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Columbia regional tourism organization reports record activity

Jason Thomas //September 5, 2023//

Columbia regional tourism organization reports record activity

Jason Thomas //September 5, 2023//

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The Capital City/Lake Murray Country Regional Tourism Board Visitor's Center welcomed a record-breaking 132,242 visitors to the region last year. (Photo/File)

The Capital City/Lake Murray Country Regional Tourism Board at its recent annual meeting reported record activity through promotion of tourism and economic development in Richland, Lexington, Newberry and Saluda counties.

For over 16 years, CCLMC has produced a national TV ad that airs all across the U.S., according to a news release. This year it went international on Careco TV through the reruns of the XVI World Bass Championship along with airing on various television shows and over 6 fishing tournament events shows.

In addition, CCLMC Visitor’s Center welcomed a record-breaking 132,242 visitors to the region last year, according to the release.

CCLMC reported that over 170,000 room nights were booked in 2022-23 and $37 million in revenue was generated by short-term rentals, the release stated. More travelers stayed in short-term rentals this June than any June on record. Demand nights rose over 14% from the previous year and revenue from June 2022-23 increased by $1 million. Stays in June 2023 resulted in $4.6 million in revenue equal to quadruple the rentals of Lakes Marion, Moultrie, and Norman combined.

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“Recently the Academy of Interactive & Visual Arts selected our TV ad for the 2023 Communicator Award. This award serves as a strong validation that what we are doing is resonating with visitors and our industry,” said Miriam Atria, president/CEO of CCLMC, in the release.

Atria went on to include that “Bassmaster has named Lake Murray the No. 1 ‘Best Southeastern Bass Lake’ and No. 4 in the U.S. in its 2023 100 Best Bass Lakes Revealed list.”

The organization’s marketing investment continues to pay off resulting in over 200 articles published on the region resulting in over 409 million impressions, the release stated. Through the “Playcation Campaign” advertisements were placed in “Garden & Gun,” “National Geographic Traveler,” to name a few.

The “Top Fishing Destination Campaign” saw advertisements placed in “BASS Magazine,” the “MLF Fishing Calendar,” USA Today's “Hunt & Fish Magazine,” and more, the release stated.

CCLMC saw a substantial rise in social media impressions, Facebook rose over 240%, Instagram 377%, and YouTube views totaled over 98,000, the release stated. had strong impressions this past year, including a record-breaking 17 million Google Search impressions and demographics trended younger capturing Gen X and Millennial travelers, according to the release.

CCLMC hosted thousands of anglers, family members, and fans during the Bass World Championship, the release stated. For the first time on U.S. soil, 25 nations came together for the event.  CCLMC also hosted the SC Welcome Centers Conference and the SC Congressional Fam Tour — all in October 2022.

The impact continued into 2023 with CCLMC hosting Major League Fishing’s Bass Pro Tour and Bassmaster Elite Series resulting in a combined economic impact of $6 million along with national TV coverage on Fox Sports 1 featuring Dreher Island State Park in Newberry County, the release stated.

“2023-24 will prove to be an even more successful year bringing two of the top three fishing tournament trails to the region (soon to be announced), one that we can announce is the USA Bass Kayak Tournament,” Vickie Davis, vice president of special events and funding at CCLMC, said in the release.

CCLMC also announced that its newest event, the Southeastern BBQ Showdow,n will be held June 2024 at Segra Park and will mark the first food sport competition to be held in a sports stadium in the US.

“The event will feature a main stage championship competition with over 30 BBQ teams from across the SE along with ancillary events and national and regional vendors.  The main goal of this event is to attract tourists to the event as well as regional visitors,” Atria said.

At its annual meeting CCLMC also elected new board members:

  • Buddy Jennings, former SCPRT Director
  • Jan Jernigan, Morgan Stanley and former Commodore of the Columbia Sailing Club
  • Andy Marchant, Cinnamon Hill Catering

They join the current CCLMC board of directors: Ryan Wingard, Dian Berry, Brad Rutherford, Gettys Brannon, Brandon Crutchfield, and Rick Lackland.