In This Issue
Team Spirit Means Economic Boost!
Duane Parrish Director, SCPRT  

Just 18 months after we traveled to Indianapolis to re-introduce South Carolina to the NCAA's Championship Division, our push appears to be paying off.

The South Carolina Sports Alliance had hoped the NCAA would remember South Carolina's team spirit, accessibility, tournament venues and commitment to sports when determining places for future games. Their hopes were realized in big ways.  At least seven major events have been scheduled in our destinations since that meeting:


-- The SEC Women's Basketball Championship in Greenville


-- The ACC Women's Basketball Championship in Conway


-- First round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament in Greenville


-- The ACC Women's Soccer Championship in Charleston


-- The ACC Women's Golf Championship in Pawleys Island


-- The ACC Men's Golf Championship in Clinton


-- The NCAA Division II Women's Golf Regional in Elgin


Many of these events sold out for the three or four days they were held, filling up arenas, hotels, restaurants and shops during traditionally slower travel periods. It has been an economic boost that, while we're still calculating, appears to have exceeded expectations. 


It has also put South Carolina back in the conversation for sports hosting. On April 18, the NCAA will announce locations for upcoming championships and regionals, and we're keeping our fingers crossed that South Carolina is among the winners.


Those tournaments have added a new layer of national exposure for South Carolina from college sports. Coastal Carolina University surprised the world when they won the College World Series in baseball in July 2016, and Clemson University overcame odds when they won the NCAA Division I College Football National Championship this year. Few people expected the University of South Carolina to reach the NCAA's Final Four in both men's and women's college basketball.


It's a great time for sports in South Carolina! We hope to continue leveraging our hosting capacity and our enduring team spirit to draw even more events in the future.
March 31, 2017

Statewide Hotel RevPAR  -- RevPAR, which, unlike our other indicators, is calculated on the calendar year, starts off at 6% greater than the year before.
Admissions Tax -- An admissions tax report was not available for the month of January as upgrades are made to the tax processing system.
State Parks Revenue --  Mild weather in January contributed to higher revenues in park admissions. Revenue from camping also increased.

With the exception of Columbia Metropolitan and Hilton Head Island, the airports across South Carolina began the year slightly ahead of business in 2016. A deplanements report was not available for the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport at the time of publishing.

Occupancy Forecast
STR Inc. forecasts spring 2017 hotel occupancy rates in South Carolina to be similar to those in spring 2016.
South Carolina and Myrtle Beach to Host 2019 Travel South Showcase
Myrtle Beach and the state of South Carolina will host Travel South Showcase Feb. 24-27, 2019 at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.  Showcase is the premier marketplace event organized by Travel South USA for group tour buyers and suppliers.
More than 500 tourism professionals gather at Showcase for three days of intensive meetings with a goal of delivering more visitors, spending more time and more money in the South. This appointment-style marketplace offers the most targeted opportunity for tour operators and wholesalers to meet face-to-face with Southern suppliers.
Pre-marketplace familiarization tours for about 85 buyers and journalists will be held around South Carolina Feb. 21-24.
Charleston International Ranks #6 in Airport Power Rankings
Charleston International Airport lands in sixth place in recent power rankings rating the efficiency of airports across the country.  Charleston ranked ahead of other major airports like Charlotte Douglas International and Ronald Reagan National.
The list compares metrics such as revenue per employee, and trends in enplanements, operating income and revenue to rate airports on their operating efficiencies and success.  For more information, visit here.
SCPRT Opens a New Front Porch
Cutting ribbon to open the new center are (left to right) Welcome Center Manager Robbin Garvin; Jayne Scarborough, Executive Director of the Olde English District Tourism Commission; James Kirby, Commissioner for the Commission of the Blind; SC Sen. Mike Fanning; SC Rep. Raye Felder; SCDOT Secretary Christy Hall; Gov. Henry McMaster, and Duane Parrish, SCPRT Director.

Governor Henry McMaster joined the tourism industry in York County to cut ribbon on a newly rebuilt South Carolina Welcome Center on I-77 southbound.  The $4.2 million facility replaces a smaller building that was more than 30 years old, and is designed to meet evolving expectations of today's travelers.
In his remarks, Gov. McMaster said the new center was a symbol of progress in South Carolina, and he acknowledged the collaboration among the Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism, the Department of Transportation and the Commission for the Blind for setting a good first impression.
"Our state is beautiful, from the mountains to the sea, we have a lot of places that people like to visit," he said. "This facility symbolizes prosperity that's sure to come to South Carolina, and the collaboration among these three state agencies is key to that."
SCPRT provides traveler assistance at the welcome center. SCDOT's State Highway Emergency Program is housed in the building and provides assistance to motorists when cars are disabled on the interstate. The welcome center's 24-hour vending service is maintained by the Commission for the Blind, which, in addition to being a traditional amenity for travelers, provides employment for the visually impaired.
The building is 10,000 square feet and features a more open and inviting lobby. Instead of a large service counter, welcome center teams work from service pods equipped with tablets from which they can find information, make hotel reservations and provide other service for visitors. The center also has a bank of outlets for charging mobile devices, and video boards broadcasting weather and road conditions.
The center lobby is more open and has features that appeal to today's traveler.
Another impressive feature is a video wall which will feature SCPRT's DISCOVER tourism videos showcasing destinations, attractions and visitor experiences from throughout the state. Video content will be updated periodically throughout the year as new videos are produced.
The color pattern of the bricks on the facility's exterior has an interesting backstory. The shading graduates upward from dark brown to tan before topping off with a light brown. It was designed to mimic the clay-soil patterns of the Piedmont reflected in Catawba pottery.
"We intend to make this facility a center of hospitality, warmth and welcome" said SCPRT Director Duane Parrish. "Not only can the traveler take a moment of rest, they can also find information to enhance their trip. The welcome center is truly the front porch of South Carolina."
The welcome center at Fort Mill averages about 1 million visitors per year. Three of the four staff persons are nationally certified travel professionals by the U.S. Travel Association. The center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (except certain holidays.)
New Fishing Pier Opens at Croft State Park

A new 100-foot-long fishing pier has opened at Croft State Park over Lake Craig, providing another platform from which visitors can enjoy recreational fishing at the park.
The $125,000 project was funded with grants from Duke Energy Foundation's Water Resources Fund ($75,000) and SC Department of Natural Resources' Watercraft Fund ($50,000.) Both programs work to make water quality more abundant and water recreation more accessible.
The pier comes with a parking area and ADA-accessible sidewalk and ramps. The pier is six feet wide for most of its length, but at its end, it broadens to 10 feet wide for additional space above the deeper water. Educational signage installed on the pier helps visitors understand the natural significance of the lake and the wildlife that depend on it.
"State parks like Croft are committed to high standards of customer service while providing quality outdoor experiences for our visitors, and this pier is a good example," said Phil Gaines, Director of the South Carolina State Park Service during a ribbon cutting today at the pier. "We are grateful to the Duke Energy Foundation and the Department of Natural Resources for supporting the project."
Duke Energy's Water Resources Fund is a $10 million commitment to improve water quality, quantity and conservation in the Carolinas and neighboring regions. "This is an investment in healthier waterways and a better quality of life for communities for years to come," said Kodwo Ghartey-Tagoe, state president for Duke Energy in South Carolina.
Featured This Month!
"I'd much rather be on the water."

Fishing and seafood stories dominated the features posted in March on, the state's official website for travelers.  Near the top of the list was a story about a fishing guide who's made a name for herself in the Santee Cooper region.  Barbara "Mouse" Witherell is the only full-time independent female fishing guide at Lakes Marion and Moultrie, and is renowned for offering complete service.
"When she's running her own trip, she does everything but reel in the fish. In addition to driving the boat, she prepares the rods, cuts up the bait fish, baits the hooks, casts the rods, nets the catch and even cleans and filets the fish at no extra charge."
For more on the story, read here.
Other stories posted in the month of March give similar exceptional insight into the South Carolina experience and include:

South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism
1205 Pendleton Street | Columbia, SC 29201