The flag, tourism et al


RE: Action ALERT, Tampa

/\/.\/\/. COMMENTS: As ever, John Adams and the Florida Division SCV are really on top of things. For someone with the time to research it, the facts on the C-flag, tourism and economics in the pivotal South Carolina case shouldn’t be all that hard to come by in the digital age. And they are heavily on our side from every standpoint — for Florida’s sake and every state’s! Here are two articles I was able to find in my own stash — keep in mind that the flag came down from the dome on July 1, 2000:



Impact of tourism sets record in S.C.

Staff Writer {the State, }

Tourism in South Carolina created a record economic impact of $15.65 billion last year, up 11.1 percent from 1998 despite the widely publicized NAACP call for a nationwide tourism boycott, state officials reported Monday.

The state Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism said visitor spending hit a record $7.14 billion last year, up 5.7 percent from 1998.

The economic impact of tourism gauges the direct expenditures by visitors (on gasoline or meals, for example) as well as how local establishments spend the receipts on wages, taxes and purchases. PRT compiled the economic impact figures for 1999 using information from the U.S. Travel Data Center.

In its report Monday, PRT also said investments in hotels, restaurants and other businesses related to tourism went up 66.5 percent, to $1.09 billion, in 1999.

Tourism-related tax receipts increased 9.7 percent, while tourism jobs went up 3.9 percent, to 126,423, compared to 1998.

Nonetheless, the estimated number of visitors in 1999 appeared to fall to 28.2 million, a 4.7 percent decline from 29.6 million in 1998.

However, PRT said that estimate had a margin of error approaching 1.8 million people. As a result, the total number of visitors in 1999 might not have dropped at all.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People first called July 15 for a tourism boycott to go into effect on Jan. 1 of this year.

However, the tourism industry immediately began to get cancellations.

The boycott was initiated to pressure state lawmakers to remove the Confederate flag from the State House dome. While both chambers of the General Assembly recently agreed to do so, the flag will remain on the Capitol grounds. As a result, the NAACP has vowed that the boycott will continue indefinitely.

Tom Sponseller, president of the Hospitality Association of South Carolina, said he believes the boycott had little real effect on tourism in 1999.

"The greatest impact will be in the future, if the boycott lasts," he said Monday. "We’ll see the effects continue into this year and next, if meeting planners just take us off their list."

PRT spokesman Lou Fontana said the boycott primarily affected conventions, which he said account for about 4 percent of the state’s overall hospitality industry.

"Most individual and family visitors were neither aware of nor concerned about the boycott," he said.

Nonetheless, surveys from four key tourism locations indicated last month that the boycott has caused about 123 event cancellations.

The overall economic losses associated with the cancellations were about $10.1 million in Columbia, Myrtle Beach, Charleston and Hilton Head Island.

For example, 34 event cancellations related to the boycott conservatively cost the Grand Strand about $1.5 million.

"The true impact might have been three times that, though, but it really only affected our conventions," said Ashby Ward, president of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.

Ward said the boycott had little, if any, impact on general tourism, which increased about 3 percent last year over 1998. Overall dollar receipts increased even more.

Al Parrish, director of the Center for Economic Research at Charleston Southern University, believes the NAACP boycott has run out of steam, now that legislators have agreed to remove the flag from the State House Dome.

"The support for their boycott will melt like ice on a sidewalk in summer," he added.

Officials of the state NAACP could not be reached for comment Monday.

While most experts welcomed the 1999 numbers released by PRT, a tourism official in the Midlands said he believes they might be exaggerated.

Tom Volz, president and CEO of the Columbia Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the 1999 numbers rely on averages that might exceed the true cost of hotel rooms in the Midlands.

"Supposedly, the average number here is that visitors spend $180 per day," Volz said. "But people don’t spend as much in Columbia as they do in Charleston or Savannah."

Volz is looking to create a methodology to more accurately measure the average expenditures of different kinds of visitors to the Columbia area, which includes Lake Murray.

Copyright 2000 The State>>>



S.C. tourism campaign proves successful

By Frank Witsil
Morris News Service

AIKEN, S.C. – South Carolina officials said an independent research firm’s study shows the state’s tourism campaign has generated more than $58 million in revenue.

The campaign ran from January to May and targeted two Georgia cities, Augusta and Atlanta, and two North Carolina cities, Greensboro and Charlotte.

The $1.8 million advertising campaign, a takeoff on the state’s "Smiling Faces, Beautiful Places" advertising motto, depicts happy South Carolinians in attractive settings.

According to surveys from Strategic Marketing and Research Inc., the firm hired to study the campaign’s impact, the advertising generated 67,000 trips to South Carolina in the first five months of this year

[!!!!!!!!!!] and more than $58 million.

That is an average spending of about $865 per trip.

"Believe it or not, if you look at travel patterns, you’d be surprised how much people spend," South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism spokesman Marion Edmonds said. "The figures always amaze me."

The award-winning campaign’s television commercials feature an upbeat jingle, "It’s All in Our Smiles," and a bouncing crescent moon, which is depicted on the state flag.

The campaign also may have blunted negative publicity from the recent travel boycott of the state sponsored by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, stemming from a fight over the Confederate battle flag.

The South Carolina Hospitality Association estimated the state lost $20 million to $40 million from the boycott, mostly from canceled conventions and meetings.

"There is no denying there was an impact from that," Edmonds said.

The state estimated it had 28 million visitors last year.

The research organization estimated the number of trips generated by the campaign and the amount spent by visitors by surveying a smaller sample from the number of people who called the toll-free number in the ads to get more information.

The campaign was named Best Overall State Tourism Marketing Program in the country by the Travel Industry Association of America, a professional tourism organization.

The "Smiling Faces, Beautiful Places" slogan was created nearly 25 years ago. The phrase came to mind because it always seemed that what people enjoyed most about the state were its friendly people and attractive settings, Edmonds said.

South Carolina’s strategy of targeting cities close to its beaches and resort destinations makes sense, said Rebecca Rogers, a spokeswoman for the Augusta Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"You’re supposed to go somewhere else for vacation," she said, adding that she has taken trips to several South Carolina cities.

Here’s another rehash of the facts as I’ve understood them here in S.C.:

1. Even as the flag conflict boiled on and the liberal establishment gnashed their teeth about how it was damaging the state’s economy — in particular its main industry, tourism — tourism and the state’s economy rose to new heights. In the brazen illogic of which only politicians and their ilk are capable, we were treated to the spectacle of gubernatorial candidates simultaneously bragging in campaign speeches about how great the economy was thanks to them and their party, and crying on other days of the week that the flag was ruining the economy.

2. At one point a big daily newspaper (I’m sure it was The State) was routinely reporting on economics and noted that Richland County had recently shot from something like 25th to the number one economic slot among S.C.’s 46 counties. It so happens that the state house sits in Richland County, further busting up their favorite notion — a fact mysteriously omitted from that article.

3. If the will of the people counts for anything, the plain fact is that VIRTUALLY EVERY public poll taken on Southern heritage subjects since about 2000 has come out in our favor. In the 1990s (or thereabouts), *most* polls taken supported our position, but the more the politicians and PC pundits have ratched up their anti-Southern ethnic cleansing, the more solidly the polls have shown public opposition to it. Staunch readers of SHNV know this; probably 100 polls have been linked in SHNV and if there were even five that didn’t go our way in the past eight years, I’m a monkey’s uncle.

I have archived quite a number of these polls (no doubt there will be some on the present issue in Florida) and would be happy to share those that are still intact on my hard drive.

4. Here is a 1997 article that began as a letter-to-the-editor of the Community Standard newspaper from
one of our best- known activists who chose to remain anonymous. His irony is priceless. I think the piece has a lot to offer any state’s politicians and pundits, in its present form or adapted to fit (e.g.) Florida. Yes, S.C. is uniquely positioned in Southern history, but most Southern states can make a similar claim on some ground or other. But even without such an angle, the bottom line is that people the world over LOVE the South, Southernness, the Confederate flag, and the pure, uncut freedom it represents flapping in the breeze over some prominent spot.


by R.M.

Maybe some of these folks criticizing the Confederate Flag have only a small scope of vision and do not recognize the uniqueness of our state. No matter how long the debate goes on, no one’s mind is likely to be changed. But there are those who fail to see the value of the REAL uniqueness of our state. We are one of a kind.

What’s wrong with being different? No other state can can proclaim "This is where Dixie began". The articles of secession were signed right here at First Baptist Church in Columbia in the shadow of the Flag. It adds a mystique which is already very attractive to tourists.

Let’s face it — we’ve go something that nobody else in the nation has. Consider the tourist dollars that we are losing by not "capitolizing" on this uniqueness! Let’s look at Southern heritage as what it really is — our strong suit, not a problem! These narrow-minded objectors including Gov. Beasley cannot see the forest for the trees. We could have folks flocking to this state, and to this city in particular, to see where it all began. This is history. It’s nothing new. We’re losing revenue dollars here.

Gov. Beasley talked through his hat regarding the state economy. Business is fine — quite possibly because of Southernness, the Flag atop the dome included. Is not the tourist industry a business? It would cost practically nothing to bring out the heritage theme this way.

Where has the Dept. of Parks, Recreation and Tourism (PRT) been during all this fracas when a so-called negative can so easily be transformed into something so positive and profitable! Perhaps the head of PRT should visit places like Colonial Williamsburg, Carter’s Grove Plantation, Jamestown — not to mention the likes of an isolated little village called Helen, Georgia, where they made something out of nothing — a tourist attraction which, thanks to the far-sighted city fathers, turned a poverty-ridden area into something that’s known worldwide. There is no question that there is still abundant space around Charleston, Columbia, and smaller towns where recreative historical sites of this nature could be located. What about the historical "corridor" of colonial settlement which Sen. Thurmond saw to completion along the coast?

What an opportunity we’re wasting, especially when this Flag is so respected throughout the world. Why can’t some of these malcontents use a common-sense approach? If they feel they’ve been dealt a lemon, haven’t they ever heard of making lemonade? It tends to remind one of the woodcutter who was so intent on getting a tree cut down before sundown he failed to sharpen his axe.

We would call on the powers that be, especially the PRT, to get with the program. While Williamsburg and all those places are great, they still do not have the uniqueness that we have. It’s all the more reason education on this era should be emphasized, because we have been so pleased on the feedback we have received from people who have recently been informed. Instead of finding fault with something people love, perhaps we can help them understand.

To add to this uniqueness, the otherwise drab signs that meet people coming into our state could be artistically decorated. We could add to "welcome to South Carolina" the words "where Dixie Began." Our signs could be colorful, like those of Virginia which feature a cardinal, and many other states having colorful pictures on their signs.

Just today (2/7/96) while walking down Main St. near the State House, I saw no less than three photographers taking pictures of it independently in the space of five minutes! Am sure two of them were tourists. Obviously, the revenues gained could go far in offsetting the tax burdens now borne by property owners and create jobs.>>>