Tourism experts frequently speak of the “hidden gems,” the out-of-the-way attractions that most people don’t know about.
But for York County, the hidden gems are easily seen, tourism experts said Thursday at the 2013 Tourism Summit at York Technical College.
York County already is a proven tourism destination, said Marion Edmonds, spokesman for the state’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department, and Berkeley Young, a Charlotte-based tourism consultant.
“You have great product, you’ve got reasons to come,” Young told an audience of local officials, attraction operators and hotel managers.
The products include Carowinds amusement park, Lake Wylie and the Catawba River, historical sites and museums.
York County is among the top 14 counties in the state for direct tourism spending and people employed in tourism, officials said.
And York County is held up as the example of sports tourism in South Carolina, officials said.
The challenge, Young said, is “how you brag.”
How you brag is not simply yelling louder than the competition.
It requires planning, cooperation and a balanced approach to allocating resources, Young said.
Lisa Meadows, executive director of the Rock Hill-York County Convention & Visitors Bureau, wants her group to continue working to improve the county’s tourism reputation.
“My takeaway from the tourism summit is our organizations have the same goals, how to partner and get our message out?” Meadows said.
Meadows said Thursday’s meeting was part of an effort to maintain a dialogue among elected leaders, the bureau and tourism partners.
The next step is updating previous research on the kind of travelers who come to York County, their wants and spending patterns. Research includes assessing the area’s strengths, weaknesses and opportunities in attracting tourists.
Meadows said the College of Hospitality at the University of South Carolina has been collecting and analyzing the data.
Meadows said there also would likely have been a series of small group discussions among local tourism officials, attraction operators and hotel owners, city and county government officials.
Don Worthington • 803-329-4066