SC museums win state tourism awards

The S.C. State Museum added an observatory and planetarium in 2014.

The South Carolina State Museum in Columbia and the Colleton Museum and Farmer’s Market in Walterboro are winners of South Carolina’s tourism awards.

The State Museum received the Governor’s Cup, the state’s highest tourism award, for its 2014 expansion that included a planetarium and observatory.

During 2015, the first full year the expansion was open, museum revenue grew almost 85 percent and attendance almost 45 percent.

The Charles Bundy Award, which recognizes rural tourism, honored the Colleton Museum and Farmers Market. Five years ago the museum was moved into a renovated storefront and added the farmer’s market.

In its old location, the museum attracted about 5,000 visitors. That’s now more than 18,000 a year.

Gov. Nikki Haley announced the awards Wednesday at the annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism & Travel. The three-day conference was held at downtown Charleston this year.

Tourism is now a $19.1 billion industry in South Carolina, according to an economic impact study released at last week’s event.