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State parks revenue drops 32% during October

Hospitality and Tourism
Ashley Heffernan
  • Ashley Heffernan
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Revenue at South Carolina’s 47 state parks dropped 32% in October from the previous year following damage from Hurricane Matthew, according to new tourism data released by the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism.

State parks brought in $1,085,781 in October, which is down from $1,608,559 in October 2015 — when much of the state faced a historic flood — and down from $2,482,982 in September 2016, the department said.

Hurricane Matthew forced evacuations and caused damage along the state's coast, making landfall as a category 1 storm near McClellanville on Oct. 8.

“In October, Hurricane Matthew skirted South Carolina’s entire coast long enough to produce significant flooding and high winds that toppled trees and damaged buildings,” Director Duane Parrish said in the department’s monthly tourism report. “Thanks to tremendous resilience and collaboration within our industry, South Carolina’s most popular destinations recovered within a few weeks.”

Hunting Island State Park in Beaufort County, however, remains closed because of Hurricane Matthew.

Additionally, a slow-moving wildfire in November burned across the mountaintops near Table Rock State Park in Pickens, Parrish said. That park is now open except for a few trails.

“While we haven’t tracked its effects on tourism, we know the revenue lost from closed campgrounds and cabins at this popular park compounded the losses at coastal state parks that were damaged by Matthew,” Parrish said in the report.

Although revenue for the state parks was down for the month of October, year-to-date revenue was up about 4% over the past fiscal year through October, the report said.

Other tourism indicators

Statewide hotel revenue per available room, commonly called RevPAR, showed a 7.3% increase in October over the previous October, and hotel occupancy forecasts don’t show much change, the report said.

Hotel data tracking company STR Inc. forecasts occupancy rates will be 48.1% in January, 58.2% in February and 68.4% in March, which are all within a percentage point of the respective monthly occupancy rates in 2016, the report said.

Deplanements at airports impacted by Hurricane Matthew — including Charleston International Airport, Hilton Head Island Airport and Myrtle Beach International Airport — were down in October, prompting the state’s total deplanements to drop nearly 3% when compared to October 2015, according to the report.

Deplanements in October for S.C. airports

Airport

Oct. 2016

% change from Oct. 2015

Year-to-date deplanements (Jan.-Oct. 2016)

Year-to-date % change from 2015

Charleston

147,379

-6.0%

1,554,994

8.8%

Columbia

49,881

8.9%

485,475

4.3%

Greenville/Spartanburg

93,790

0.9%

837,233

4.4%

Hilton Head Island

1,969

-42.2%

28,922

-19.3%

Myrtle Beach

70,615

-5.8%

878,228

6.0%

Total

363,634

-2.7%

3,784,852

6.3%

Source: S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism

Reach Ashley Heffernan at 843-849-3144.

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