ACC, SEC fans eyed for tourism
They might be considered the newest attractions in South Carolina's $14 billion tourism industry: linebackers in Carolina garnet and wide receivers in Clemson orange.
Building on the success of the football teams at South Carolina and Clemson, the state Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism targeted promotional messages last fall to ACC and SEC fans in five nearby states within relatively easy driving distance.
Officials used news releases and social media, and contacted both sports and lifestyle reporters in the media. The message to fans coming to the state for games was to get off the interstate and see other South Carolina attractions.
"I don't know if other states are doing it or not, but we are," said Duane Parrish, the department's director. "It's difficult to track, but I'm sure we had some success there."
It helped that both South Carolina and Clemson were having success on the field. Both teams were nationally ranked. Clemson won the ACC title and played in the Orange Bowl, while USC had the best football season in school history.
"They were already in the news, and we just capitalized on that," said Dawn Dawson-House, a spokeswoman for the tourism agency. "We said since you're on the interstate, here are some must-see things that would be great for you to see while you're here and spend another night here."
The campaign brought attention to sights that those from out of state might not be aware of, she said. "A lot of people are familiar with the attractions of their favorite destination if they go to Myrtle Beach or they go to Charleston," Dawson-House said. "But many are not aware of what is on the way."