CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – A jam-packed weekend in the Lowcountry marked the start of a busy tourist season. Events like the Cooper River Bridge Run and the Flowertown Festival drew in thousands.

On Saturday, nearly 20,000 people hit the Ravenel Bridge for the run. According to Doug Warner with Explore Charleston, lately, people have been booking longer stays when visiting the Lowcountry, which is good for the economy.

“We don’t want more people; we want people who will come and stay longer and spend more money. The number of visitors is actually considerably down, but the economic impact is way up. We are really excited about that news,” said Warner.

Amber Effner was visiting the Lowcountry from Atlanta. She participated in the Bridge Run and said she planned to stay until this Friday.

According to Warner, the economic impact of the hospitality industry in 2021 was a record-breaking $10 billion. He said that was higher than 2019’s $9 billion. He predicts 2022 will also beat pre-pandemic levels.

“We have seen so far this year, including this past weekend, there was a really strong demand in hotel occupancy and rate,” said Warner.

Meanwhile, at the Flowertown Festival, organizers believe the three-day event could have a nearly $50 million impact on the Summerville community, based on years past.

They estimated that more than 200,000 people attended the festival.

“Crowds were full this year, compared to when we did this in 2019, we had the same numbers,” said Erika Stubbs, the Marketing Director for Summerville YMCA.

Leaders expect a very busy summer in the Lowcountry.