Tourism brought a record $23.8 billion to South Carolina in 2018, generating $1.8 billion in state and local taxes and supporting one in 10 jobs in the state.
The South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism released totals of tourism business activity for 2018 on Monday during the Governor’s Conference on Tourism & Travel in Myrtle Beach, according to a news release. The 2018 calendar year is the latest for which comprehensive data analysis is available.
Duane Parrish, department director, told the conference that state tourism has been growing for about a decade.
“We’re not a static, one-dimensional vacation destination,” Parrish said in the release. “We are an evolving, multi-faceted collection of unique travel experiences. That’s what brings more, new visitors to our state each year, and that’s what keeps those visitors coming back year after year.”
Parrish said 2019 indicators suggest more growth in what would be the state’s seventh straight year of record improvement. The department reported that at the end of the last fiscal year, accommodations tax collections climbed 4% and admissions tax collections increased nearly 5%. Deplanements at the state’s five major airports increased 10.5%, reaching a record 5.8 million.
Hotel inventory increased by 2.9% in 2019 and overall room revenue increased by 2.5%. AirDNA reported the inventory of available short-term rental properties in the state totaled more than 50,000 last year, an increase of 9.7%.
Going forward, Parrish announced the department has allocated an additional $100,000 to its Tourism Advertising Grant program and will offer new advertising opportunities in its consumer e-newsletters and Facebook pages. States parks will offer a new scavenger hunt mobile app to encourage visitation, while a rebuilt welcome center on Interstate 95 in Dillon will open this summer.
The department is also working with the S. C. Battleground Preservation Trust and the S. C. Association of Tourism Regions to celebrate the sestercentennial of the Revolutionary War.s