SC Tourism Growth Cools Considerably

Key indicator expands by just 1.6 percent in 2018 …

The most critical tourism metric tracked by Palmetto State officials expanded at an anemic 1.6 percent clip during 2018, according to data released on Thursday by the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism (SCPRT).

That print marks the 2018 uptick in revenue per available room – a.k.a. RevPAR.

As we previously reported, the Palmetto State saw a 4.6 percent increase in RevPAR in 2017 – which beat the national growth rate of 3 percent and the southeastern growth rate of 4.3 percent.

Beyond the disappointing RevPAR print, SCPRT updated several tourism-related tax streams this week – however the latest data does not cover all of 2018.  Also, the agency has only recently realigned its reporting with the S.C. Department of Revenue (SCDOR) – meaning certain comparisons continue to elude us.

Nonetheless, SCPRT announced that accommodations tax collections from last October totaled $5.4 million – a 2.3 percent increase from the previous October.  Year-to-date, accommodations tax collections stood at $40.2 million through the first ten months of last year – another 2.3 percent uptick.


When it comes to admissions tax collections, November’s returns totaled $2.8 million – a 7.6 percent decline from the previous November.  Year-to-date admissions tax collections clocked in at $21.4 million, however – a 4.1 percent increase.

Our view?  The data clearly show a slowdown in growth at a time when the American economy was booming … which leads us to believe that South Carolina’s ongoing failure to diversify as a vacation destination is continuing to serve as a headwind.

Again, though, whether growth is booming or limping along, taxpayers will continue to subsidize this industry to the tune of tens of millions of dollars a year at the state and local level – which we wholeheartedly rebuke.

Expenditures on tourism marketing are not core functions of government, which means they should be subsidized exclusively by those businesses which derive a direct benefit from them.

Continuing to pass along such costs to taxpayers is unfair … especially given the rampant corruption accompanying such expenses.



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