Second half of summer outperforms pre-pandemic tourism numbers, says expert

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CHARLESTON S.C. (WCBD) – Friday marks the official start of Labor Day Weekend and here in the Lowcountry, that means another influx of visitors.

Tourism experts say despite the rise in cases from the delta variant, the reality is there haven’t been any noticeable negative impacts on the tourism industry.

Daniel Guttentag, the Director of Tourism Analysis for the College of Charleston says there’s no doubt in his mind that there will be a jump in visitors coming to the Lowcountry this holiday weekend. Even more, he notes that overall tourism in the Lowcountry is remaining steady. 

Guttentag says according to his research, the second half of the summer has outperformed pre-pandemic numbers when it comes to tourism. In fact, we are receiving more visitors every week than we were receiving during the same weeks pre-pandemic.

Through much of June and July, hotels were running near a reported 80% occupancy and while it’s taken a small dip, Guttentag says that is normal for this time of year noting the main draw for the Lowcountry as the beaches and other outdoor recreation.

Alison Spector, a Lowcountry visitor says this is the first vacation she has taken since before the pandemic. She says, “it’s just nice to be out with other people and enjoying someplace new—the architecture is fabulous here”.  

Spector says she is fully vaccinated and feels comfortable on vacation this week. While she didn’t come for the beaches, she says she has had Charleston on her list to visit for some time. 

We’re are here for the food, we are doing every bit of a food tour, we are having a cooking class this evening, it’s all about the food for us. 

Alison Spector, Visitor 

As for if the trend of increased tourists and visitors will continue past this weekend?

Guttentag says, “there’s a lot of momentum that the industry has, I think there is a lot of reason to have optimism that things are going to continue to go well and we are going to continue to attract lots of visitors”.

He also anticipates another spike in visitors come the Cooper River Bridge Run, as the typical springtime event will be held on September 25th. 

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