The Columbia area welcomed 15.1 million visitors in 2021, according to a report from Experience Columbia SC, the region’s destination marketing organization.
The numbers were revealed Wednesday, Nov. 2 at a special event at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, according to a news release. Bill Ellen, president and CEO of Experience Columbia SC, said they show that tourism in the area is back in full swing after the pandemic.
“Thanks to a successful recovery strategy and recovery funding from our stakeholders, our region welcomed 15.1 million visitors in 2021,” Ellen said. “That doesn’t happen on its own. We are telling our story in many ways and driving visitors to the destination. Our staff are experts in the tourism industry, staying on top of trends in the meetings, sports and leisure markets, and we couldn’t do it without our hospitality partners, stakeholders and funding partners. “
Tourism in the Columbia area has a $2.4 billion economic impact, generates $120 million in state and local taxes and is responsible for 21,000 jobs, according to statistics compiled by Longwoods International and Tourism Economics. The region also welcomes 5.4 million overnight visitors. All of these statistics are above pre-pandemic numbers from 2019, according to the release.
“Columbia is not a drive through, fly over city,” Ellen said. “We’re an experience all on our own and have just as much, if not more, to offer than our competitors when it comes to destination assets.”