SPARTANBURG — Officials say South Carolina's tourism industry surpassed $20 billion for the first time in 2015.
The Spartanburg Herald-Journal reported that Duane Parrish, director of the S.C. Department of Parks Recreation and Tourism, announced the milestone in Spartanburg during the annual South Carolina Governor's Conference on Tourism and Travel. The three-day event wrapped up Wednesday.
Parrish says tourism generated $20.2 billion in economic activity statewide in 2015, a 6.1 percent increase over 2014, and the fourth straight year of growth.
Final numbers for 2016 aren't yet available, but Parrish said it looks like it was "another great year."
“This growth was the result of increased consumer confidence boosted by a favorable economy, including lower gas prices,” Parrish said in prepared remarks. “Add to that the enormous appeal of South Carolina’s destinations and a tourism industry that promotes these places, and you have a formula for significant economic impact.”
Parrish says tourism remains as South Carolina's largest industry, supporting one in 10 jobs and generating $1.5 billion in state and local tax revenues.
The agency said the state's fastest-growing tourism sector in 2015 was the capital investment category, which climbed 25 percent, followed by spending by international visitors, which rose 12.5 percent increase.
Statewide hotel occupancy grew by 3.2 percent and average daily rates increased 3.9 percent which generated a 7.2 percent increase in revenue per available room. That increase was the largest in the South Atlantic region, the department said.