• Georgetown Times
  • Waccamaw Times
  • Inlet Outlook

Many factors point to an increase in visitors to the county

  • Wednesday, January 22, 2014

  • Updated Thursday, January 23, 2014 2:10 pm

Coastal Carolina University’s Tourism Economy Study reported that during a six-week period beginning in November, there was a 5.4 percent increase in lodging in Georgetown and Horry counties.

Those statistics were welcome numbers to the county’s Tourism Management Commission, which met last week.

Lauren Cobb Joseph, the commission’s marketing director, said she has talked with accommodations providers and they confirm increased numbers are realistic.

Joseph said confirmation from the state about the lodging numbers, and the amount of A-Tax money coming to the county are hard to pin down because SCPRT has been plagued with new computer system issues, new reporting processes, and complicated Internet concerns that continue to change at a rapid pace.

Nonetheless, county numbers and TMC numbers are encouraging. State numbers will be provided as quickly as they are available.

“I’m working up the SC Coalition to be certain stabilizing reporting issues remain top of mind for lawmakers,” Joseph said.

A promotional eblast sent out shortly before Christmas boasted the highest deliverability and open rate of the entire year.

The county’s contract with Great Southern Publishing for a country fulfillment piece has reached sales of $24,000 – and a few weeks still remain before the publication deadlines. This is already $4,000 over anticipated sales.

Total 2013 marketing funds provided by A-Tax were approximately $734,000. To date, the county is more than $75,000 under budget.

Strongest advertising response has come from Charlotte, N.C, Greenville/Spartanburg, and Columbia. Strongest states are South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Tennessee and Maryland.

Web statistics have generated approximately 150,000 leads, and numbers show multiple page views and visitors who have visited and plan to visit five to seven times.

The country’s Facebook page is nearing 13,000 likes. Engagement and reposts are stronger than ever.

The S.C. Heritage Corridor partnered with the county on a video and the results were strong. Their marketing outreach includes a strong international component.

DiscoverSouthCarolina.com, MurrellsInlet.com, and GeorgetownChamber.com generate the strongest Internet referrals, and numbers have increased considerably over 2012.

Mobile visits are on the rise.

The TMC intends to request $400,000 in A-Tax funds for the 2014/15 Fiscal Year. These monies will be spent on the website, interactive advertising, and co-branding with organizations like the Waccamaw Golf Trail and Pawleys Island Festival of Music and Art.

The next commission meeting is Feb. 13 at 3:30 p.m. at The Lachicotte Company in Pawleys Island. Meetings are open to the public. Direct questions to Lauren Cobb Joseph at 843-546-8436.

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