South Carolina’s Ongoing Tourism Disaster: The Latest Numbers

All eyes on 2021 as losses for this year hit $5.6 billion …

As the most brutal year in recent memory for the South Carolina tourism industry draws to a merciful conclusion, all eyes are on 2021 – and the hope there will be some sort of bounce back.

Certainly local businesses are desperate for a rebound … as are their employees, who rely on these seasonal jobs to put food on their tables and roofs over their heads year-round.

Will a bounce back happen? Obviously the coronavirus pandemic and its subsequent societal shutdowns are unprecedented occurrences – shocks to the system no one could have ever predicted and for which no one could have adequately prepared.

Accordingly, we are nowhere near being able to determine the long-term impact these “shocks” are going to have on our nation and its economy.

Similarly, we are nowhere near being able to ascertain the duration and robustness of the recovery … particularly as a new wave of lockdowns looms in response to rising Covid-19 cases.

So while we brace for a “dark winter” – and potential tourism-related revenue declines of more than thirty percent next year, per one outlet – it falls to us to continue assessing the latest available data. And once again, it isn’t good.

According to Tourism Economics, South Carolina visitor spending came up $108 million short during the week ending December 5, 2020 (compared to the same week a year earlier). That represented a 37 percent decline – the second-worst reading in the last fourteen weeks.

For the year, revenues are down $5.6 billion – a decline of 42 percent form the same point in 2019.

(Click to view)

(Via: Tourism Economics)

In other depressing metrics, occupancy for South Carolina stood at 38.2 percent during the week ending December 5 – slightly better than the national rate of 37.4 percent but below the regional rate of 40 percent, according to data released by the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism (SCPRT).

The Palmetto State typically outperforms both the nation and region in occupancy rates, but in recent weeks it has consistently slipped below its regional competitors.

Meanwhile, declines in revenue per available room – or RevPAR, a key industry metric – gained momentum. RevPAR clocked in at $30.78 during the week ending December 5, a decline of 39.4 percent from the equivalent week in 2019. For the year this indicator is down 40.5 percent.

Nightly rooms sold clocked in at 303,000 – down 25.1 percent from the equivalent week a year ago and down 26.8 percent for the year-to-date.

As we frequently point out, this news outlet remains optimistic that the Palmetto State can chart a far more prosperous course for this industry – assuming its leaders start lowering taxesdiversifying our destinationsprotecting 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.”

Again, though … a competitive asset is worth nothing unless those in charge of it are aware of its value and how to maximize it.

So far, governor Henry McMaster and leaders at the state and local level have failed in both regards – opting to pour more tax money into the same corrupt “tourism mafia” organizations that have failed the state in the past.

As we noted in a recent post, our news outlet is in the process of compiling a competitiveness agenda for 2021. You can “bet” that maximizing the value of this sector will be high on the list.




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