A University of South Carolina study has found that African-American tourists generate $2.4 billion in annual economic impact for the Palmetto State, and that number is rising since the removal of the Confederate flag in July 2015 from the Statehouse grounds.
The report by USC’s SmartState Center of Economic Excellence in Tourism also found there’s potential to grow African-American tourism, along with high interest from travelers of all races wanting to explore South Carolina’s African-American cultural experiences, according to a press release.
Nearly half of 900 African-American travelers from out of state surveyed for the study said the flag’s removal had, or would, influence their decision to travel to South Carolina. However, barriers remain, the release added.
The study found 50% of African-Americans surveyed who have not visited South Carolina still fear racial discrimination if they travel here. “This number is slightly less (40%) for those who have visited this year, but is still a barrier to growing this market,” the release said.
The Confederate flag was removed July 10, 2015 from the Statehouse grounds in Columbia, one day after Gov. Nikki Haley signed a bill into law to bring down the controversial emblem.
Haley called for the flag’s removal following the June 17, 2015, massacre of nine people at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church in what authorities said was a racially motived hate crime. Among the dead was state Sen. Clementa Pinckney.