Despite Economy, CVB Says Hospitality Is Strong in Columbia, S.C.

The hospitality industry remains strong in Columbia, S.C., according to local tourism officials, who cite recent hotel occupancy data that puts Columbia ahead of every other destination in South Carolina, not to mention the entire South Atlantic region and the nation in general.

"Columbia is fortunate that in this economy the lodging industry is doing better than most South Carolina destinations, as other destinations in the state are suffering from individual and business travelers who have cut back on their travel budgets," Tom Sponseller, president and CEO of the Hospitality Association of South Carolina, said in a statement. "Being the capital city is beneficial in this economy as groups are making more prudent decisions by holding meetings in strategic locations more so than those aimed more at leisure."

According to Smith Travel Research, Columbia—which is being marketed with the tagline Famously Hot—enjoyed a 2.5 percent increase in hotel occupancy in August 2008, versus August 2007. And although its occupancy dropped 2.9 percent in September and 2.6 percent in October, its year-to-date occupancy rate is up 1.4 percent over last year's, while the nation's is down 3.4 percent.

"The fact that our hotel properties are doing well is a great sign for us," said Ric Luber, president and CEO of the Midlands Authority for Conventions, Sports & Tourism. "The fact that our hotel properties are doing well is a great sign for us. Columbia is weathering the storm. Meeting planners are noticing how Famously Hot we are in affordability, accessibility and meeting facilities. We've got the big city amenities including world-class attractions at more than half the cost."