U.S. Rep. Tim Scott sang a rather off-key rendition of Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" before Gov. Nikki Haley made some bold promises and asked for a few favors from the state hospitality industry Tuesday.

"We will take care of you," she said at the Governor's Conference on Tourism and Travel at Charleston Place Hotel. "I need you to trust us a little."

Haley lauded the Palmetto State's virtues -- from beaches to mountains to rural communities ripe for movies -- and asked, hypothetically, why it still faces challenges.

"We have to market South Carolina like a business," the Republican governor told hundreds of people who make leisure their work, as they lunched on chicken, mashed potatoes and white chocolate bread pudding.

She emphasized the importance of attracting conferences, finding corporate sponsors for events and courting visitors -- including those who chose to relocate their vacations to South Carolina during last summer's

Gulf Coast oil spill. She praised the success of the past weekend's Southeastern Wildlife Exposition, which she saw firsthand and which relied on no state money this year.

Haley pledged to attend any event for which a business makes a donation, saying, "We want them to know what it means when they invest in our state."

The governor promised to take a critical look at South Carolina's welcome centers and to cut out red tape for growing the tourism industry.

"If you are spending time dealing with state agencies, then we are doing something wrong," she said. "If you are making money, we are doing well."

She also made a few requests of her audience. Haley asked for an end to the penny sales tax, saying it "creates a bad perception for the state." She also told the group not to allow state funding to sponsor events, in the wake of the suggestion to use emergency coffers for the Heritage professional golf tournament on Hilton Head Island.

"I'm going to make sure we have a sponsor for that event," she said.

Haley closed by asking attendees to speak positively about South Carolina -- its climate, its business, its leadership. She asked them to break the habit of sharing bad news, calling it "contagious" and saying that it dissuades travelers and business prospects from coming to the state.

Haley said she spoke with a national magazine writer earlier Tuesday who brought to the interview preconceived ideas about South Carolina. The governor asked the writer to come visit.

Before Haley took the podium, Scott used his turn to call the state's hospitality industry workers "the cavalry." The 1st District Republican pointed out that South Carolina's tourism industry provides for one in 10 South Carolina jobs and that it stands to make a $40 billion impact over the next decade.

"You all are leading us into the promised land," Scott said. "You all are making sure the visitors continue to come."