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SC Tourism: Good News, Bad News

2017 ended on an uptick, but 2018 faces headwinds …

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While coastal tourism officials argue amongst themselves over visitor data (there’s a gap of ten million people between two commonly cited estimates) the S.C. Department of Parks Recreation and Tourism (SCPRT) has released its final data for 2017.

According to the agency, the Palmetto State’s revenue per available room – or RevPAR, the key tourism metric – climbed 2.2 percent in December (compared to December 2016).  That closes the book on 2017, which saw a 4.6 percent increase in RevPAR from the previous year.

Is that good news?  On one hand, yes …

South Carolina’s print beat the national growth rate of 3 percent and the southeastern growth rate of 4.3 percent.

However, as we’ve noted in the past these numbers don’t always align with tax receipts – the only indicator government officials are eyeing.

Also, it’s looking as though 2018 is going to be a difficult year for the industry – at least during the spring months.

SCPRT is predicting a “dip in occupancy in South Carolina for the spring,” which will likely drag down both RevPAR and tax receipts for the year.

According to the latest estimates, March’s occupancy is projected to dip by 2.5 percent compared to last year, while April is projected to experience a 3 percent decline.  May is currently forecast to see a 1.4 percent dip.

Those estimates are roughly in line with forecasts released by the agency a month ago …

Are any of these numbers impacted by ongoing government subsidization of this industry?  Um, no … 

Taxpayer funds for tourism marketing have absolutely no impact in attracting visitors en masse, people.  It’s all macroeconomics … and the ability (or inability) of tourism destinations to diversify their appeal.

Furthermore, even if tourism marketing did have a measurable macroeconomic impact, it would still not be a core function of government.  If businesses directly benefitting from tourism wish to pool their resources on destination marketing campaigns, that’s great.

Taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize these campaigns … 

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