Virus Outbreak South Carolina

A boy plays in the sand on Myrtle Beach, S.C., on Saturday, May 2, 2020.

(The Center Square) – The South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism is working on a plan to help a tourism industry that already has lost more than $2 billion in revenue.

"The state tourism office and industry leaders across South Carolina are restoring business as quickly – and safely – as possible," Dawn Dawson-House, the department's director of corporate communications, said in an interview with The Center Square. "We've launched recovery campaigns around the themes 'Dream Now. Discover Later.' and 'When You're Ready, We're Ready.' to respond to research that suggests people want to venture out at their pace and when they feel comfortable."

Dawson-House said the department also is showing commercials to markets within a 350-mile radius, as well as Ohio, promoting tourism of the state.

South Carolina slowly has reopened and data from the department after the first week of reopening found revenue per available hotel room was down 62 percent from the same week last year and hotel room nights sold was down 45.2 percent from last year.

"We've seen upticks in hotel occupancy, attendance at state parks and attractions, high visitation along our beaches and waterways and increased dining in restaurants," Dawson-House said. "It might be a while before indicators like accommodations and admissions tax reports and monthly lodging data reflect this new business, but we're encouraged by early signs so far."

Dawson-House said the industry has more than $2 billion in revenue since March, which is a 52 percent decline.

"Like most destinations around the globe, our industry faced a significant impact in March, April and May during pandemic shutdowns," Dawson-House said. "The South Carolina tourism industry lost about $2.4 billion in revenue."

Data reported by the U.S. Travel Association and Tourism Economics showed for the week that ended May 16, there was a decline of 79 percent from that same week in 2019, leaving the state losing $244 million in revenue that week.