Tourism picture brighter in Beaufort County, area chambers say

info@islandpacket.comFebruary 9, 2014 

A few days before Hilton Head Island was set to host a statewide tourism conference, Susan Thomas was away on business.

Thomas, senior vice president of the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, was attending the Boston Globe Travel Show to encourage those in the Boston and New York markets to take advantage of upcoming direct flights to Savannah.

For the first time since the economic downturn, her efforts deal with growth rather than recovery.

Hotel occupancy increased 3.8 percent on Hilton Head Island in 2013, and revenue per available room increased 9.3 percent, Thomas said Friday.

In Beaufort, occupancy was up 5 percent and revenue per available room increased 10 percent, according to Robb Well, tourism division executive of the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce.

"Tourism is back from the recession," Thomas said.

The chambers plan to showcase the initiatives they say contributed to that growth Monday through Wednesday during the Governors Conference on Tourism Travel at the Hilton Head Marriott Resort & Spa.

Beaufort, for example, has streamlined its marketing message and enhanced its data collection from visitors, Well said.

"The conference is a great opportunity for the tourism industry in this state," Well said. "It's one of the few times we can all get together and see what's working."

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