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S.C. tourism industry’s economic impact surpasses $19B in 2014

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By Ashley Heffernan
aheffernan@scbiznews.com
Published Feb. 18, 2016

Just over $19 billion of the S.C. economy came from the tourism industry in 2014, according to new data from the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. That’s a 5.5%, or roughly $1 billion, increase from 2013.

SC PRT director Duane Parrish at Governor's Conference on Tourism and Travel in Charleston (Photo Ashley Heffernan)Duane Parrish, director of the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, speaks Wednesday during the Governor’s Conference on Tourism and Travel at Belmond Charleston Place. (Photo/Ashley Heffernan)
“We know that tourism enhances the quality of life in our state, it provides jobs for one out of every 10 residents, and we know it has tremendous impact on our state’s economy,” Duane Parrish, the department’s director, said Wednesday during the annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism and Travel in Charleston.

Parrish also released some S.C. tourism data from 2015:

  • Hotel occupancy across the state averaged 62.3% in 2015, which is up 2.1% from 2014.
  • Hotel revenue per available room — known as revpar — averaged $65.36, a 7.2% increase from 2014. For comparison, the national revpar growth was 6.3%.
  • Admissions tax collection reached $37 million in fiscal year 2014-2015, which is an 8.5% jump from the previous fiscal year.
  • The S.C. State Park Service’s revenue reached a record high of $26.9 million in fiscal year 2014-2015, a nearly $3 million increase from the previous fiscal year. That puts the service at an all-time high of 94% self-sufficiency.
  • More than $1.1 billion in tourism capital investment was announced across South Carolina in 2015.

With a $1.4 million international budget, the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism has a presence in Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. The department partnered with Brand USA and Travel South USA, which will expanded its reach to France, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Brazil, India and China, according to Parrish.

“The investment, collaboration and partnerships are paying off,” he said. “In 2014, the Travel South member states, of which we are a part, welcomed an estimated 2.5 million visitors from overseas, a 7% share of the 35 million overseas visitors to the United States. These overseas visitors represent a 20% increase in volume over the prior year of 2013.”

The department currently showcases videos on its website in 10 different languages. Before the end of the fiscal year, it plans to add language-appropriate videos for visitors from China and India.

Reach staff writer Ashley Heffernan at 843-849-3144 or @AshleyBHeff on Twitter.

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