Gov. McMaster commends state’s tourism industry and presents annual tourism awards in Greenville

February 9, 2022

Greenville, S.C. – To wrap up the 57th annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism & Travel, Governor Henry McMaster delivered remarks and presented awards to three distinguished honorees from South Carolina’s tourism industry.

The Governor shared highlights from his proposed budget, and explained how important investments in infrastructure will support our booming tourism industry and improve future visitor experience. He also reminded the audience what makes South Carolina’s tourism industry unique.

“You can be at the beach in the morning and in the mountains in time to watch the sun go down,” Gov. McMaster said. “We have it all! Besides the great geography, we have great people. That’s what makes South Carolina special.”

The Fred Brinkman Award is presented on occasion to an individual in South Carolina who has demonstrated an enduring and outstanding commitment to improving tourism in the state. Gov. McMaster presented the award to Phil Gaines, the previous director of South Carolina State Parks.

Gaines began his career in 1982 as a park technician at Kings Mountain State Park. He quickly climbed the ranks into leadership and executive positions, becoming Assistant State Park Director in 2000 and Director in 2005. His legacy at South Carolina State Parks includes: helping transform parks into the natural and cultural destinations they are today; helping instill stewardship and service in the agency’s core values; moving parks closer to operational self-sufficiency by generating enough revenue to cover costs, and operating efficiently enough to keep costs low; inspiring the next generation of park and outdoor leaders; and much more. He retired in 2018.

His impact reaches from the mountains to the coast of South Carolina, and well beyond our borders. Gaines has collaborated with and inspired park leaders in other states through his work with the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD). He is well known for his innovative and creative leadership, and frequently speaks to park and outdoor leaders at events all over the country.

A public servant to the core, Gaines continues to share his knowledge and passion by teaching as an adjunct professor at his alma mater, Clemson University, and through service in numerous organizations. He has been instrumental in plans to develop the new Revolutionary War Visitor Center in Camden. His many accolades include a Distinguished Service Award from NASPD and the Public Servant of the Year Award from Upstate Forever.

This award is named after Fred Brinkman, the longest serving SCPRT director.

The prestigious Governor’s Cup was given to euphoria Food, Wine & Music Festival, Greenville’s highly anticipated, multi-day food, wine and music festival. This award was created to recognize the attraction, destination, or development that demonstrates extraordinary success in tourism.

Euphoria was created to spotlight Greenville’s culinary and music arts scene, with a mission to promote tourism in Greenville, and give back to the community. The four-day festival is held every September and includes cooking demonstrations, wine seminars, live musical performances and multi-course dinners featuring Michelin-starred chefs. The visitors that flock to the upstate for euphoria fill hotels and restaurants, creating an estimated $3.8 million impact in 2018.

The festival works to showcase the talent of chefs and beverage professionals from all over the Palmetto State, raising the culinary profile of South Carolina one bite and sip at a time. Euphoria has funded projects for more than 40 local charities that are dedicated to helping children, providing education through music and performing arts, and working to eliminate hunger in the community.

Finally, the Abbeville Opera House was presented with the esteemed Charles A. Bundy Award, which is given to the attraction, destination or development that helps rural communities reach their tourism potential.

The Abbeville Opera House is a 300-seat venue on the National Historic Register. It’s been a pillar of tourism for the City of Abbeville, serving as home to community theater performances for more than 60 years. As attendance waned, the city recognized an opportunity to shift the venue’s focus and worked to attract a wider audience. By diversifying programming, modernizing equipment and investing in historic preservation, the Opera House has seen a resurgence in the past three years. Strategic tourism marketing partnerships and digital tactics have been a major component of these recent wins, which include a 240% increase in economic impact since 2017. The Opera House is helping position the City of Abbeville as a small-town tourism destination for arts and culture, and elevating the quality of life for residents.

This award is named after Charles A. Bundy, the chairman of the former PRT Commission who was instrumental in realizing the importance of rural tourism development to South Carolina.

The Governor’s Conference on Tourism & Travel is the largest annual gathering of the state's tourism industry created to celebrate industry accomplishments, hear from top industry speakers, and encourage collaboration and innovation to grow tourism in South Carolina. The next conference will be February 13-15, 2023, at the Kiawah Island Golf Resort.

For more information, contact Sam Queen at or 803-767-3568.


Pictured above left to right: SCPRT director Duane Parrish, Governor Henry McMaster, and Phil Gaines.

View photos from the event here. Morgan Allen accepted the Governor's Cup on behalf of euphoria and Austin Walker accepted the Bundy Award on behalf of the Abbeville Opera House. 

Need more information?   Sam Queen
Director of Corporate Communications
SC Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism
1205 Pendleton Street, Columbia, SC 29201
| 803-734-1779
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