South Carolina Tourism Losses Hit $5.5 Billion – Will 2021 Be Any Better?

Industry reeling from first round of coronavirus shutdowns braces for what’s next …

After losing virtually the entire 2020 season to the coronavirus pandemic, South Carolina’s battered tourism industry is warily eying recent surges in Covid-19 cases as it prepares for 2021.

What will the new year hold?

Even before the onset of the so-called “dark winter,” 2021 was shaping up to be a less-than-inspiring year for travel – with some outlets projecting tourism-related revenue declines of more than thirty percent in the coming calendar year.

As for this news outlet, we have repeatedly warned that South Carolina should expect “fewer visitors and less spending … for several seasons to come.”

And as we noted way back in January, tourism in the Palmetto State was already showing signs of weakness before the pandemic hit – part of the industry’s ongoing failure to to diversify as a tourism destination.

Covid-19 and its subsequent societal shutdowns have been nothing short of asteroid strikes, though … with the impact worsening with each escalation of cases.

The latest numbers?

According to Tourism Economics, South Carolina lost out on a total of $84 million in visitor spending during the week ending November 28, 2020 (compared to the same week a year earlier).

That’s a decline of 29 percent – and puts this metric down by 42 percent on a year-to-date basis.

(Click to view)

(Via: Tourism Economics)

All told, the industry has lost $5.5 billion compared to the same point in 2019 – a truly apocalyptic number that has been accompanied by tens of thousands of seasonal and permanent job losses.

In other news, according to the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism (SCPRT) occupancy rates in the Palmetto State stood at 39 percent during the week ending November 28 – better than the national rate of 36.2 percent but below the regional mark of 40.8 percent.

The Columbia area reported the best occupancy rate for the week as a result of the University of South Carolina’s football game against Georgia.

Statewide, revenue per available room – or RevPAR, a key industry measurement – stood at $34.57. That marked a 24.1 percent decline from the same week in 2019 and is now down 40.5 percent on a year-to-date basis.

Meanwhile, nightly rooms sold registered at 309,000 – down 17 percent from the same week a year ago and 26.8 percent from the same point in 2019.

No updated accommodations or admissions tax data was included in the latest SCPRT release. We will be reaching out to the S.C. Department of Revenue (SCDOR) this week to see what figures they may have available for us.

Bottom line? Total carnage … and sadly, it seems 2021 is unlikely to provide much in the way of a rebound for the battered industry.

Still, this news outlet remains optimistic that the Palmetto State can recover – if its leaders start lowering taxes, diversifying our destinations, protecting our history and refocusing on public safety as a core function of government (particularly in Charleston and Myrtle Beach).

“South Carolina’s 187-mile coastline – anchored by picturesque Hilton Head, historic Charleston and the inimitable Grand Strand – is a huge competitive asset,” we noted earlier this year. “It offers the Palmetto State a tremendous opportunity to emerge from the coronavirus recession on more solid economic footing than many other states.”

Will South Carolina take full advantage of this asset? Or will it continue to squander it?

We shall see …




Got something you’d like to say in response to one of our articles? Or an issue you’d like to address proactively? We have an open microphone policy! Submit your letter to the editor (or guest column) via email HERE. Got a tip for a story? CLICK HERE. Got a technical question or a glitch to report? CLICK HERE.


Get our newsletter by clicking here …


Related posts


South Carolina Attorney General Addresses Title IX Changes


It’s Getting Hot In South Carolina

Will Folks

Lowcountry ‘Defense of Democracy’ Leader Ousted Over Assassination Comments

Dylan Nolan

Leave a Comment