South Carolina is blessed with an abundance of natural and man-made gifts – historic cities that attract visitors from all over the world, pristine beaches that stretch for hundreds of miles, small towns that offer a unique glimpse into days gone by, black water rivers for a peaceful day of kayaking or canoeing and spectacular golf courses that wow the avid amateur and challenge the best touring pros. Those gifts and more helped fuel a seasonal business called tourism and turned it into a powerhouse that now ranks as the state’s number one industry. No one could have predicted such a rosy future when the General Assembly created the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism way back in 1967. Legislators assigned the agency three very specific tasks:
- To help foster and promote the state’s emerging tourism industry;
- To protect and promote South Carolina state parks; and
- To help communities plan and develop recreational opportunities for local residents.
To access Section 51-1-10 of the SC Code of Laws which established SCPRT as an agency, click here.
Growing South Carolina’s economy by fostering sustainable tourism economic development and effectively marketing our state to increase visitation and improve the quality of life for all South Carolinians.
- Grow the state. (the economy, jobs, the product base, etc.)
- Enhance the authentic experiences. (Remain true to what makes South Carolina special.)
- Lead the way.
1. Heads in Beds
a. Short Term: Develop and implement a plan to renovate the state’s nine Welcome Centers to reflect changes in travel trends and technology, with a prototype underway by July 2014.
b. Short Term: Redesign Discover South Carolina website and social media outlets by July 2014 to strategically incorporate content and visual elements that reinforce the Undiscovered SC marketing message.
c. Long Term: Develop and implement an Undiscovered SC Enhancement grant program to help grow tourism in rural areas of South Carolina.
2. Feet in Fairways
a. Short Term: Leverage South Carolina’s growing reputation as an international golf destination by enhancing golf advertising presence in South Carolina’s prime international markets (Canada, UK & Germany).
b. Long Term: Partner with the South Carolina golf/tourism industry to increase consumer awareness and use of the state’s golf product.
3. People in Parks
a. Short Term: Pursue completion of capital projects that will serve as difference makers for State Parks’ revenue generation and alleviate some priority deferred maintenance needs, including addressing the physical impact of heavy rains during the spring and summer of 2013.
b. Long Term: Create an effective and achievable plan for the State Park Service to become 100% operationally self-sufficient by the end of CY 2014.
State Park Service
The Park Service manages and protects more than 80,000 acres of South Carolina's natural and cultural resources, which range from deep mountain wilderness and old-growth forests, to plantation homes, battlefields, waterfronts and wetlands. The state park system includes 47 operational parks and six historic properties. The system also includes more than 1,500 separate buildings, 155 cabins, 80 motel rooms, 3,000 campsites, two 18-hole golf courses, two saltwater fishing piers, 42 ponds, 156 miles of paved roads, and more than 300 miles of hiking and riding trails. Read more about the State Park Service Mission & Goals
South Carolina's Tourism Industry
SCPRT has assumed the leadership role in promoting tourism, South Carolina’s number one industry. Tens of millions of people travel in the Palmetto State annually to vacation, visit family members or conduct business. South Carolina State Parks attract millions of visitors a year, and the agency plays an important role in planning and developing hiking trails, tennis courts, ball fields and other recreational facilities across the state. SCPRT helps bring tourism-related development to communities, big and small, all over the state.
SCPRT’s mission to enhance the economic well-being and improve the quality of life of all South Carolinians guides the agency’s operations and provides a benchmark for its hundreds of employees to measure their day-to-day contributions. Today, SCPRT is one of South Carolina’s most important state agencies.
Tourism generates wealth and creates jobs in communities across the state while producing benefits for all state residents to enjoy, such as new restaurants, hotels, golf courses, attractions, shopping centers and more. Additionally, tourism generates over a billion dollars in tax revenues for state and local governments. These tax dollars provide essential services to South Carolina residents. Tourism holds the promise of a better future for South Carolina and SCPRT strives to deliver on that promise. To learn more about the economic impact of South Carolina's tourism industry, click here.
The South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism offers a myriad of resources for industry partners seeking assistance to promote, enhance or grow their tourism product. Here you will find information on matching grants for non-profit organizations looking to attract out-of-state-visitors to local events and festivals; and federally matching grants to help local and county governments build new or renovate existing recreational facilities.
Nine welcome centers, which serve some 8 million visitors annually, are venues for brochures and discount coupons on the state’s tourism attributes. Cooperative advertising programs offer varying levels of participation for tourism organizations seeking to leverage limited marketing dollars by partnering with PRT. Extensive research and statistics on South Carolina’s tourism industry can be found here, as well. If the information you need isn’t available in this section, send us an e-mail and we will do our best to assist you.