KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. (WCBD) – Some were worried limited capacity at this year’s PGA Tournament would mean a smaller economic boost for the Lowcountry, but so far, that doesn’t seem to be the case. City of Charleston officials say they’re already seeing more traffic around town, which they attribute to the tournament.
“You can already tell the energy around town has changed,” says Doug Warner, Vice President of Media and Innovation with the Charleston Visitors Bureau. “If you tried to book a restaurant reservation or get a hotel room you know that our industry and Charleston is back and getting there very quickly.”
A 2019 College of Charleston study predicted the tournament would bring $100 million in economic profit to the area. Even with in-person attendance limited to 50% at this year’s event, PGA Championship Director Ryan Ogle says media exposure could push the number higher.
Despite the setbacks, Ogle says he believes “that it will be a tremendous impact and one of the bigger impacts you’ve seen from any sporting event in this area.”
He continued, saying “it’s going to exceed a $100 million dollars for the golf course and the local community combined through that exposure over the seven days of coverage out here.”
The tournament is the first big event in Charleston since last March and economists say that consumers are itching to spend after being at home for months.
“There’s a huge pent-up demand for people to open up their wallets and spend what they haven’t been able to spend for a while,” says Frank Hefner, an economics professor with the College of Charleston.
Richard Ebeling, an economics professor with The Citadel, agrees:
“They will be renting hotel rooms, they will be buying meals, they will be visiting various entertainment sites as well as attending the tournament. So all of this will act as positive boost to the local economy after an extremely difficult year and a half.”
A golf tournament serving as a sign of normalcy and hope for a stronger year ahead.
“PGA is functioning, Kiawah is there,” says Hefner. “We’re going to see additional people coming in because of that, it’s a welcome mat. It’s we’re open, come on in.”
Practice rounds from Kiawah will wrap up Wednesday night before the tournament kicks off on Thursday morning and continues through the weekend.