By BRUCE SMITH
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina's tourism industry has bounced back after the Great Recession, with visitor spending reaching a record $16.5 billion in the state.
Data released to The Associated Press by the state Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism show that spending in 2011 was up almost 10% from the previous year. The release of the figures from the U.S. Travel Association generally lags about year or so behind the year they were recorded.
State tourism director Duane Parrish attributes part of the increase to pent-up demand by people who didn't travel because of concerns about the economy.
The figures also show that about 53% of tourism spending in 2011 came from visitors from other states. Five percent came from international travelers.