Thursday, February 13, 2014
Hilton Head Island — The best of the best in hospitality, marketing and rural tourism were recognized at the annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism & Travel recently.
The Charles A. Bundy Award, an award that recognizes contributions to rural tourism in South Carolina, was given to the Georgetown Wooden Boat Show.
The show began in 1993 by a group of local business people who wanted to improve business in downtown Georgetown. For the past two decades, this event has continued to build its economic impact on the community.
Local hotels, for example, experienced a 50 percent increase in accommodations revenues during the boat show weekend, and restaurants along Front Street have seen a 45 percent spike in revenue.
The real impact, however, has gone far beyond business.
The festival has helped revitalize two historic buildings, and continues to play a pivotal role in the development of the South Carolina Maritime Museum.
In the wake of the devastating fire on Front Street last September, the Georgetown Wooden Boat Show became a rallying point for the community to move forward and overcome the challenges brought by the tragedy.
The Governor’s Conference on Tourism & Travel, set this year at the Hilton Head Island Marriott Resort & Spa, is an annual gathering of tourism industry leaders to discuss emerging trends and marketing strategies that help improve the business of tourism.
The awards program recognizes outstanding achievements in tourism development, marketing, events, business practice and study.
“South Carolina is fortunate to have professional, dedicated members in its industry and bright, gifted students who will secure our future, and we’re delighted to give them the attention they deserve,” said Duane Parrish, director of the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism.
The Governor’s Cup was awarded to Visit Greenville, SC, for their new marketing campaign “yeah, THAT Greenville,” a re-branding effort intended to set it apart from other destinations.
The campaign not only re-invented its logo, stationery, website and other collateral with fresh, new and creative designs, it also incorporated advances in technology by leveraging the increasing importance of social media in its online strategy.
As a result, there have been steady increases in hotel occupancy and revenue, consistently out-performing the national, South Atlantic and statewide averages.
The South Carolina Hospitality Employee of the Year Award was presented to Pelham Lyles of the Fairfield County Museum. She is an eighth-generation resident of Fairfield County, whose family has a rich history in the area. It is this history, coupled with Pelham’s curiosity about what the lives of others were like, that led to her desire to share Fairfield County’s history with others.
Pelham, who is the museum’s sole employee, has tripled visitation in the last three years. She accomplished this through a variety of programs, including bringing Smithsonian exhibits to the museum. She took her tourism attraction from only being open a few days a week to a full-time operation through grants, additional county funding and volunteers, making her attraction a model for overcoming staff and budgetary limitations.
Pelham has also extended the walls of the museum to include other historical sites. To this end she has championed the cause of Historic Preservation, writing grants and organizing projects to prevent the demolition of, or to restore, many historic architectural structures.
The Richard Mikell Scholarship award, which recognizes achievements in nature-based tourism, was presented to Gabriel Stroman, a wildlife biology student at Horry-Georgetown Technical College. Stroman was given the award for submitting a proposal to the Nature Based Tourism Association in South Carolina on how to expand and improve the nature-based tourism product in the state.
The conference also recognized the 2013 winner of the Outstanding Waste Reduction and Recycling program, offered by DHEC’s Smart Business Recycling and Green Hospitality programs.
The winner is the Old Village Post House, a restaurant in Mount Pleasant.
The restaurant was recognized for implementing a comprehensive recycling program, purchasing recycled content products and reusing menus, other paper and pre-consumer food scraps. The restaurant also purchases food free of hormones, chemicals and harmful fertilizers as well as free-range and sustainably raised meat products, when possible.
Students in hospitality and tourism-related studies in colleges and universities across South Carolina received awards at the conference. Student awards were presented by the South Carolina Travel and Tourism Coalition through the Fred Brinkman Memorial Fund, and are given to students with high academic achievements in the study of a tourism-related field. This year’s winners were:
Hope Paccione of Clemson University
Taylor Young of Coastal Carolina University
Aaron Jacobson of the College of Charleston
Victoria Everitt of Trident Technical College
Joshua Bishop of Spartanburg Community College
Melissa Anne Williams of the Culinary Institute of the Carolinas at Greenville Technical College
Phillip Dargan Kirby of the University of South Carolina-Beaufort
Marie Basil of the University of South Carolina and
Coco Hardwick of Horry-Georgetown Technical College
For more information, contact Marion Edmonds at 803-361-6144.
— From SCPRT