During the 2023 South Carolina Governor’s Conference on Tourism and Travel, held Feb. 13-15 on Kiawah Island, Gov. Henry McMaster and State Tourism Director Duane Parrish celebrated the success of the Palmetto state's tourism industry.
Parrish, who leads the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism (SCPRT), delivered his annual “State of the Industry” address, announcing new record-breaking figures for 2021 and 2022. While the Palmetto State weathered the COVID-19 pandemic better than most other states, 2020 “was a setback,” Parrish said, “but instead of being discouraged, we redoubled our efforts in 2021.”
Those redoubled efforts paid off. By 2021, tourism’s estimated economic impact reached an all-time high of $26 billion, which Parrish credited to strategic marketing, a continued partnership with tourism ambassador Darius Rucker, the PGA Championship in Kiawah followed by the Palmetto Championship at Congaree, and the hard work of destinations and attractions across South Carolina.
“In South Carolina, we are blessed to have the winning combination of unparalleled natural beauty and hardworking people,” said Gov. McMaster. “Our tourism industry protects and shares our natural and manmade treasures from the mountains to the coast, and provides authentic hospitality to our visitors. Congratulations for continuing to shatter records and reach new heights as you help the world discover South Carolina.”
South Carolina Tourism Estimated Economic Impact
2019: $24 billion
2020: $18.5 billion
2021: $26 billion
2022: $29 billion
All told, the estimated economic impact of tourism in South Carolina for 2022 was $29 billion. Parrish credited attendees – and all those working in the industry – with the achievement. “The challenges we’ve faced, we have faced together,” he said. “And the success we’ve achieved, we have achieved together. South Carolina’s ‘Tourism Success Story’ is a tale with many authors, and one that I feel both proud and privileged to share with you today.”
The upward trend continued for 2022, welcoming:
- the PGA TOUR back to Congaree for the CJ CUP in South Carolina;
- continuing the relationship with Darius Rucker, and helping host his Riverfront Revival music festival;
- attracting powerhouse films and streaming series to the state, like HBO’s Righteous Gemstones, Netflix’s Outer Banks, and Suncoast, a film starring Woody Harrelson and Laura Linney;
- taking to the airwaves with our Legacy of Courage Civil Rights Trail podcast and new tourism podcast, The Palmetto Porch;
- launching a third season of our Go for It series with SCETV; and more.