Charleston County hotels, buoyed by the Republican presidential primary run-up in January and the PGA Championship on Kiawah Island in August, ended 2012 slightly fuller than they were in 2011.

For all of 2012, the county’s hotels registered an occupancy rate of 70.5 percent, up from 0.8 percent over 2011, according to Office of Tourism Analysis at the College of Charleston.

The average daily room rate rose faster to $123.40, an increased of 5.2 percent for the year. And revenue per available room, a key metric reached by multiplying the average daily room rate by the occupancy rate, also rose to $88.14, up 6 percent.

For the year, West Ashley posted the largest gain in occupancy, up 3.8 percent, and revenue per available room, up 8 percent, while East Cooper enjoyed the largest increase in average daily rates, up 6 percent, according to Perrin Lawson, deputy director of Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Peninsular Charleston, where nearly 1,500 new hotel rooms are either being built or planned, reported the highest occupancy rate for the year, coming in a hair shy of 80 percent.

As for December, generally a slower time of year in the tourist trade, occupancy rose year over year for the month by 2 percent in hotels across the county to 48.3 percent, with 2,600 more room nights sold in December over the same month a year earlier. The average daily rate increased to $107.66, up 0.9 percent, while revenue per available room went up 2.1 percent to $52.33.

Charleston County ended the year with 15,091 hotel rooms, or about 100 more.

Taste test

For the second year in a row, Charleston is on Southern Living magazine’s Top 10 list of “Tastiest Towns in the South.”

“Led by ‘soil evangelist’ Sean Brock, chef at Husk, Charleston’s top chefs are moving indigenous ingredients ... back to the center of the plate,” writes Southern Living senior editor Paula Disbrowe in the February issue hitting newsstands Friday.. “Hotspots like The Ordinary, Butcher & Bee, The Macintosh and The Grocery raise the casual food bar,” she adds.

As for which of the 10 is the tastiest town in the South, Southern Living’s readers will decide by voting through Feb. 28 on or via smartphone by downloading the complimentary Digimarc Discover app and scanning the corresponding image in the magazine. Each daily vote allows a consumer to be entered for a chance to win $1,500 toward a trip to the Tasty Town of his or her choice.

Southern Living will profile each of the towns and reveal the “Tastiest Town in the South” in the May issue, on newsstands April 19 and online at

Other towns on the list include Asheville, N.C.; Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Durham, N.C., Greenville; Louisville, Ky.; Memphis, Tenn., Miami; and New Orleans.

Stocking up

The stock dividend that Mount Pleasant-based Southcoast Financial Corp. is issuing to shareholders out later this week has a symmetrical numerical ring to it.

The community bank owner declared a 5 percent stock dividend around its five-year anniversary in 2003 and a 10 percent stock dividend when it hit the 10-year mark.

So it follows that Southcoast, which trades under the ticker symbol SOCB, would issue a 15 percent rate in the year it turns 15. Remarkably, that wasn’t a conscious decision, said CEO Wayne Pearson.

The owner of the nine-branch Southcoast Community Bank has issued stock bonuses on and off since 1999.