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 -- including finding a title sponsor for the Heritage PGA Tour event on Hilton Head Island -- 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. 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.
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. She told the group not to allow state funding to sponsor events, in the wake of the suggestion to use state money for the Heritage.
"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.
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 jobs in the state and 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."