Bus group praises Mepkin festival

This ceramic nativity scene was displayed during Mepkin Abbey’s Creche Festival in November.

GRACE BEAHM

Usually, Charleston events garner attention on national rankings, but now a Berkeley County event received a notch on a list.

The American Bus Association dubbed the Mepkin Abbey Creche Festival as one of the top 100 events in North America from more than 600 entries, according to the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce, which nominated the festival.

Beginning in early November, the monks transform the conference center into a forest of trees and candles that serve as the backdrop for hundreds of unique and handmade Nativity sets from around the world. Last year, outdoor displays were added.

"The honor gives Mepkin Abbey an important boost in visibility among professional tour planners," Peter J. Pantuso, ABA's president and chief executive, said.

Head count

The number of heads in beds at Charleston County hotels dropped for a second month in a row in August.

Hotel occupancy decreased by 3.4 percent over the same month last year to 69.9 percent as the county is estimated to have sold about 10,500 fewer room nights than August 2010, according to the Office of Tourism Analysis in the College of Charleston School of Business.

The drop came despite a 2.2 percent increase in the average daily rate per room, which was $111.49. Hotels also registered a 1.1 percent decrease in revenue per available room to $78.09.

For 2011 through August, hotel occupancy is up 1.8 percent. West Ashley and East Cooper reported small increases in occupancy of 1 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively, while peninsular Charleston and North Charleston registered sizable decreases of 5.9 percent and 4.1 percent, respectively.

County hotels registered 324,659 room nights sold in August. In August 2010, they sold 335,148 room nights.

Return on investment

Bank of South Carolina Corp. is increasing its quarterly payout by a penny to 11 cents a share, or 10 percent. The higher rate is payable Oct. 31 to shareholders of record as of Oct. 12. The yield based on the new dividend is about 4.8 percent.

The Charleston-based holding company owns the four-branch Bank of South Carolina, which has largely avoided the foreclosure morass that's dogging many of its competitors. The yield based on the higher payout is 4.8 percent.

Hugh C. Lane Jr., president and chief executive officer, noted that Oct. 25 marks the 25th anniversary of the company's receiving its bank charter. The doors to the main Meeting Street branch opened about a year later in 1987.