CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Big honors for the world's #1 tourist destination from the state's top ambassador. Governor Nikki Haley came to the Holy City to remind everyone that what's good for Charleston is good for the entire state.
Sandy beaches, vibrant downtown, and rich history are among the reasons Charleston takes the top tourist destination accolade. Other areas of the state also feel the tourism boom.
"It's the gateway to Charleston. The community overall has a lot of energy. We have activities going on every month," Chamber of Commerce President Rita Berry said.
In Summerville, the Chamber of Commerce says tourism is up 18% over last year. Tourism officials from up near the North Carolina state line say Charleston is even boosting business up there.
"We're seeing a lot of visitors en route to Charleston and we love that Charleston was named the #1 tourist destination in the world because that means more business for all of South Carolina," Director of Olde English Tourism District Jayne Scarborough said.
Governor Nikki Haley announced Charleston's top tourist destination distinction from Conde Nast magazine during a "State of Tourism" speech.
"What it tells people across the world, if you haven't been here come here quick and if you've been here come back because people are still enjoying it," Gov. Haley said.
She says hotel stays statewide are up 3.5% over last year, revenue per room is up more than 7%, and state parks made record revenue at more than $21 million.
Charleston's attractions aren't just bringing tourists, but also large companies and organizations are hosting big conferences and conventions in Charleston.
"It puts us right in the limelight. So when people are bringing their national association here or national event, they see Charleston and we get a lot of play," Embassy Suites Convention Center spokesman Chuck Lauer said.
Gov. Haley says some big economic boosts for the state this year have been the Heritage and PGA golf tournaments and southwest airlines adding direct flights to or from Charleston.
Despite a $15 billion tourism industry statewide, tourism officials say tourism has not quite returned to pre-recession levels.