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Record SC Tourism Spending?

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Travelers spent a record $16.5 billion in South Carolina in 2011, according to the U.S. Travel Association. That beats a 2008 record of $15 billion.

Hmmmm … and where are the these numbers, again? Because we searched all over the organization’s website and couldn’t find them anywhere.

Oh well, wherever they are … they would appear to contradict data released previously by the S.C. Department of Parks Recreation and Tourism (SCPRT) – a state agency which is slated to receive $79.2 million in the coming FY 2013-14 state budget (a 12.1 percent increase over its current funding level).

Wait … hold up … marketing tourism is a core function of government? Apparently so …

Anyway, in 2007 South Carolina’s annual occupancy rate was 58.8 percent and its revenue per available room (or “RevPAR, the key tourism metric) was $51.31, according to SCPRT. Then the recession hit – which resulted in brutal years in 2009 and 2010.

In 2011 the occupancy rate had climbed to 54.8 percent and RevPAR was $47.91 – but both figures trailed behind the national tourism “rebound.”

They also failed to hit SCPRT director Duane Parrish’s promise of “double digit growth.”

Last year RevPAR finally climbed back above the $50.00 mark – at $50.99 – a 6.8 percent increase from the prior year.

Again that’s good … but it’s not double-digit growth.

According to the latest data for 2013 (January through March), occupancy rates are up 1.2 percent from the previous year while RevPAR is up 4.4 percent. By comparison, occupancy rates nationally are up 1.8 percent, while  RevPAR is up by 6.4 percent.

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