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SC Tourism Snapshot

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SOLID APRIL DATA …

South Carolina’s tourism industry grew by double digits during the month of April – according to the government agency that serves as its taxpayer-subsidized marketing arm.

April data from the S.C. Department of Parks Recreation and Tourism (SCPRT) released this week showed an 11.9 percent year-over-year increase in revenue per available room – or RevPAR, the key industry metric.  For the year to date (through April), RevPAR was up 8.4 percent from the previous year.

SCPRT also reported that major airports in South Carolina’s coastal areas were showing strong passenger growth.  Statewide, a total of 399,678 people deplaned at Palmetto State airports in April – up 2.6 percent from April of 2016.  For the first four months of the year, a total of 1,321,703 people deplaned at airports in South Carolina – up 2.7 percent from the first four months of 2016.

Of interest, these statewide numbers include steep drop-offs in traffic at the airport in Columbia, S.C. – which saw its April print drop by 17.4 percent from the previous year and by 11.2 percent on a year-to-date basis (again, through April).

Not good …

As for the coastal destinations, though, are things looking “up?”

Absolutely … and we certainly hope this trend accelerates through the summer season.

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Obviously there are some strong global/ national economic headwinds impacting the tourism industry at the moment, though.  And beyond that, as this website has previously noted, some of the Palmetto State’s key tourism engines aren’t exactly firing on all cylinders.  Meanwhile newspaper headlines of violent crime waves along the state’s Grand Strand aren’t helping things, either.

Tourism officials are optimistic, though, touting projections of elevated occupancy rates during the months of July (0.5 percent), August (1.6 percent) and September (0.7 percent).

Whether the tourism business is up or down, though, doesn’t change the fact that spending money on marketing for these destinations is not an essential use of tax dollars.

“If South Carolina’s tourism industry wishes to market itself to the rest of the world, then it can pick up the tab for those efforts,” we wrote back in 2013.  “That’s how business works – or at least how it’s supposed to work. Sadly, in South Carolina our government keeps coming up with ways to usurp private sector functions rather than ways to put money back in the pockets of taxpayers.”

Indeed … and while tourism marketing isn’t a massive taxpayer expenditure, it’s the principle that counts.

This is money that should be spent elsewhere …

In other news, SCPRT announced that revenue at its state parks increased by 4.49 percent in April on a year-over-year basis – but is down 3.4 percent for the year.

“Campground closures at Edisto Beach and Hunting Island state parks adversely affect the overall revenue picture,” the agency noted.

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