Parks, Recreation & Tourism Director Chad Prosser told a U.S. Senate panel this week that there needs to be a national approach to promoting tourism to the rest of the world.He says, “The United States is one of the few countries, developed or undeveloped, that does nto have a nationally-coordinated tourism marketing campaign, or organization for that matter. That burden right now falls to the states.”
Prosser says “States and our tourist destinations compete in a global market for travelers, yet states cannot speak for the rest of the nation.”
Tourism is South Carolina’s largest single industry, accounting for 12.6 percent of the state’s total employment and about $17.2 billion in annual sales…and it’s being hit hard. Greenville tourist and hospitality is down 35 percent, says Prosser. He says his agency is seeing many cases of business incentive travel being cancelled in the beach areas.
The state PRT director testified along with the president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority, the chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resort, and the chairman of Travelocity…among other industry leaders.
Prosser says they spent a lot of time discussing the un-intended fallout from bank and car company bailouts,and that is, “corporations and CEO’s and boards are very reluctant to travel at all, because there have been a few abuses and those few abuses have cast a shadow over all business travel. So you have a lot of decisions being made because of the public opinion issue, instead of the business case, to cancel meetings.”
That is something, says Prosser, that does not require any funding. Instead, it requires government leadership to be careful how they talk about business travel…
“To give some guidelines so that the corporations and CEOs feel comfortable, because right now, in the uncertainty, they’re just deciding not to travel or hold meetings at all because they are afraid of the public criticism,” says Prosser.
Prosser and tourist industry leaders spoke on behalf of the U-S Senate proposed “Travel Promotion Act” that asks for a public-private partnership for a campaign to promote American tourism. Prosser says it would level the playing field for the U-S in international tourism.
It was Prosser’s second appearance before the Senate since his appointment to SCPRT by Gov. Mark Sanford in 2003.