South Carolina’s tourism economy continued to tank during the week that ended on May 2, 2020 – but officials believe they may have reached the bottom of the free fall that has followed the coronavirus pandemic and its subsequent societal shutdowns.
According to the latest data from the S.C. Department of Parks Recreation and Tourism (SCPRT), revenue per available room – or “RevPAR,” arguably the most critical tourism metric – clocked in at $22.91 during the week ending May 2. That figure was a shocking 72.8 percent lower than the same week a year ago.
For the year, RevPAR is down 41.8 percent from the same point in 2019 – a figure which has grown progressively worse. Four weeks ago, the year-to-date decline stood at 25.3 percent.
Tourism officials reported 230,000 “hotel room nights” sold during the week ending May 2, a decline of 57.2 percent from the same week a year ago. For the year, this metric is down 28.8 percent. That figure is also getting progressively worse, as the year-to-date hit four weeks ago stood at 15.5 percent.
Not surprisingly, the downturn has eviscerated tourism revenue …
According to data (.pdf) released by Tourism Economics, the Palmetto State lost $262 million compared to the same week in 2019 – an 85 percent decline. Since the beginning of March, the industry has lost a staggering $1.9 billion.
Weekly revenue losses have exceeded 84 percent for five consecutive weeks compared to the same periods a year ago – and have exceeded 62 percent for seven consecutive weeks.
Is the worst over?
“Tourism revenues appear to have bottomed out at the end of April,” officials noted in a release accompanying the data – although experts have cautioned that it could take years for the industry to return to pre-coronavirus levels in the Palmetto State.
Here is a look at the recent carnage …
(Click to view)
(Via: Tourism Economics)
Again, we hope the worst of the storm has passed … but significant headwinds remain for the South Carolina tourism industry (and we aren’t just talking about the winds associated with what is forecast to be a very busy Atlantic hurricane season).
Tens of millions of Americans have lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus and its subsequent lockdowns, and while federal aid has helped mitigate some of the damage – family vacations are going to be a luxury fewer Americans can afford in the months (and potentially years) to come.
Meanwhile, those families that are fortunate enough to take a vacation will likely be on much tighter budgets – in addition to being much less inclined to venture out and about to restaurants, attractions and shops.
Against such a backdrop, this news outlet has encouraged state and local leaders to consider tourism diversification options – including the idea of putting casinos on the coast. We have also called on them to put a stop to their self-serving hypocrisy, incompetence and lack of transparency – and to start addressing long-standing problems with rising crime and dirty water along the South Carolina shoreline.
Finally, we believe it is time to put an end once and for all to their crony capitalist “destination marketing” scams – which fleece taxpayers to subsidize what is clearly not a core function of government.
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