COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The Blue Marlin opened its doors in 1994.
Partner, Ryan Dukes, said a lot has changed around them since then. “We have grown as a restaurant, as the community has grown.”
The Blue Marlin has seen The Vista become what it is today. The area draws hundreds to downtown Columbia for food and other attractions.
Dukes said he has seen a steady increase over the years of tourists popping in for some grub while visiting Columbia. “We rely strongly on the local community. We see tourism as our voice outside of Columbia.”
The South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism’s latest numbers show the tourism industry is responsible for $22.6 billion of revenue. A $1.4 billion dollar increase from their last calculation.
Dukes said he isn’t surprised. South Carolina has a lot to offer. “You put it all together, there is a state that in one weekend you can go up to the ocean, up to the mountains and then to the Midlands Area.”
SCPRT said State Parks are getting closer and closer to becoming self-sufficient. These parks generated record amounts of revenue in 2017-18.
They also said revenue per available hotel room has increased by 63% since 2010 in South Carolina.
The new data represents business activity in 2017 and marks the sixth consecutive year of tourism growth in South Carolina.
Duane Parrish, Director of the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, unveiled these new numbers to kick off the Governor’s Conference on Tourism and Travel Monday afternoon.
He said the industry is still growing in South Carolina. “Whether its restaurants or things to do, it adds to that quality of life.”
Some future plans include:
- Seeking $1 million additional marketing funding in its budget request to help tourism more quickly recover from natural disasters in the fall
- Moving forward with beach renourishment at Hunting Island State Park and public tours of nearby St. Phillips Island
- Rebuilding the welcome center on I-95 south at the North Carolina border in Dillon to help meet the demands of today’s traveler
Parrish said if the film industry continues to do business in South Carolina there could be even more growth.