South Carolina opens its arms to tourism industry

On Monday, Gov. Henry McMaster declared this “Travel and Tourism Week in South Carolina” in a celebration at the Governor’s Mansion.
Published: May. 8, 2023 at 2:05 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - South Carolina is home to a nearly $30 billion tourism industry.

And state leaders expect 2023 could be another record year for travel in the Palmetto State.

On Monday, Gov. Henry McMaster declared this “Travel and Tourism Week in South Carolina” in a celebration at the Governor’s Mansion.

The state Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism says the industry supports one in 10 jobs in South Carolina.

And nearly $2 billion came into local economies last year through state and local taxes.

Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Director Duane Parrish says what sets South Carolina apart are the variety and accessibility of everything it has to offer.

“We’re a small triangle, but we’ve got the beaches to the mountains, mountains to the coast, all in one state. In the summertime, you can play golf in the mountains at 3500 feet in elevation in the morning, and that afternoon, play at the Ocean Course at Kiawah in the same day,” Parrish said.

Parrish says the coast continues to be South Carolina’s most popular spot with tourists.

But he says places like Columbia and Greenville – and even some lesser-known parts of the state – are welcoming more visitors now, too.

“In the Palmetto State, hospitality is just part of our way of life, from the tidal creeks of the Lowcountry to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains,” McMaster said. “People from all over the world are visiting and falling in love with our state. Employers are creating new jobs, entrepreneurs are opening new businesses, and companies are deciding to relocate here – and tourism plays an important role in giving those businesses and families their first impressions of our great state.”

Representatives from some of the state’s top culinary and hospitality and tourism programs also attended Monday’s celebration.

“From the future chefs studying at The Culinary Institute of Charleston to the future hotel executive being cultivated in our classrooms at USC, students in hospitality and tourism-related programs across the state represent the future of this industry,” said Dr. Robin DiPietro, director of the University of South Carolina’s School of Hospitality & Tourism Management. “When you consider the creativity, talent, dedication, passion, and compassion you’ll find in these students, it’s impossible to not be optimistic about our next generation of hospitality and tourism leaders.”