South Carolina capital vies for tourists
COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina’s most popular tourist destinations include Charleston’s Historic District and Myrtle Beach. But now its capital city Columbia is redoubling efforts to attract visitors as it markets itself as “Famously Hot.”
Columbia has been best-known for years simply as the seat of state government and home to the University of South Carolina, said Kim Jamieson, spokeswoman for the Midlands Authority for Conventions, Sports and Tourism.
“We are trying to change that mindset that people have about Columbia,” Jamieson said. “It’s a challenge but it’s exciting to be able to change that perception.”
She said things began changing a few years ago. Today there’s a marketing approach promoting the region as “Famously Hot,” which Columbia summers certainly are, away from the state’s cool mountain regions and beach sea breezes.
“It is the new Southern hot spot and that is something we have carried through with our branding,” she said.
Columbia’s Riverbanks Zoo, the Columbia Museum of Art, the Congaree Riverwalk and nearby Congaree National Park are all attractions the area promotes.
The boyhood home of Woodrow Wilson is in Columbia and the historic site reopens next month after almost $4 million in renovations.
The South Carolina State Museum is located in an old 1893 textile mill.
Later this year the museum opens “Windows to New Worlds,” an addition including, among other attractions, an observatory, planetarium, theater and a gallery of historic telescopes. Museum officials expect the new features to result in an additional 75,000 visitors a year.
The Columbia 63 effort has sponsored a series of events commemorating the civil rights movement. Markers noting key Columbia events will be unveiled this year on Main Street.
The marketing effort also promotes the city’s food, shopping and entertainment offerings along Main Street, the Congaree Vista and in Five Points near the university campus.
The effort is working and the area now draws an estimated 1 million visitors a year, a number Jamieson said is probably conservative.
A study by the U.S. Travel Association for the state Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism shows that in 2012, domestic travelers spent almost $572 million in Richland County, where Columbia is located.
That was fifth among counties statewide and represented about 5 percent of the South Carolina total. About 6,100 people in the county were employed in tourism.
By contrast in Horry County, where Myrtle Beach is located, domestic travelers spent $3.5 billion, almost a third of the state total. Horry is the state’s top tourism county and almost 38,000 people there make a living in the industry.
Jamieson said Columbia faces the same challenges being near Charleston and Myrtle Beach as other towns near big tourist destinations like Orlando and New York.
“We’re not so far off the map so people don’t know where we are but we also have to make sure people are aware and we want to make sure to work to continuously to entice them,” she said.
Rules for posting comments
Comments posted below are from readers. In no way do they represent the view of Oahu Publishing Inc. or this newspaper. This is a public forum.
Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content but the newspaper is under no obligation to do so. Comment posters are solely responsible under the Communications Decency Act for comments posted on this Web site. Oahu Publishing Inc. is not liable for messages from third parties.
IP and email addresses of persons who post are not treated as confidential records and will be disclosed in response to valid legal process.
Do not post:
- Potentially libelous statements or damaging innuendo.
- Obscene, explicit, or racist language.
- Copyrighted materials of any sort without the express permission of the copyright holder.
- Personal attacks, insults or threats.
- The use of another person's real name to disguise your identity.
- Comments unrelated to the story.
If you believe that a commenter has not followed these guidelines, please click the FLAG icon below the comment.