In one year, visitors double their impact on York County. And it saves you money

Billy Dunlap, incoming executive director of the Rock Hill/York County Convention & Visitors Bureau
Billy Dunlap, incoming executive director of the Rock Hill/York County Convention & Visitors Bureau

By mid-summer, York County’s top tourism official expects to have doubled the economic impact of a thriving industry.

Billy Dunlap, who leads Visit York County, gave York County Council their quarterly update Feb. 4. He talked about the business of bringing people to York County.

He said the economic impact of booking events here in 2017-18 was $18.2 million. The 2018-19 figure is more than double -- at $37.4 million.

“That is business that we’ve already booked, that is coming to York County between (the start of the fiscal year) and July 1.”

Dunlap has a variety of figures to explain why generating tourism is important. He points to $5.79 million in local tax revenue for 2017. He points to an estimated $245 million in visitor spending in 2017.

“That is people that came to York County for a day, two days, a week, a month,” Dunlap said. “Came to York County and spent money.”

Dunlap said those figures generate another number often overlooked in discussing tourism. Those 2017 totals, he said, add up to $245 per household countywide that does not have to come from local and state taxes.

“That is a very important number,” he said.

There is reason to believe tourism will keep its upward trend.

Recreation sites from the Rock Hill Sports & Events Center to Banks Athletic Park in Fort Mill to Tega Cay’s Catawba Park are in various stages of development. All will be able to host or share events.

Visit York County also started its own monthly Youtube show, “Road Trip York County.” It highlights various places or events in the county from Sylvia Theater in York to the famed Friendship Nine protests in Rock Hill to countywide agriculture. Dunlap’s department has a subscription newsletter too, every Friday with the top five activities of the weekend in York County.

From last November through January, Dunlap’s group hosted or assisted with the NCAA Div. 1 cross country regionals at Winthrop University, the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference cross country championships and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Showcase high school basketball tournament.

The group also brought Battle at the Rock, a first-year event featuring top high school basketball teams from across the country that already is expanded to a third day for next year and has its roster of teams all but full.

“We sold out Nation Ford High School, two days of basketball,” Dunlap said.

Another recent hit is the YoCo Brew Trail. It connects breweries and similar venues in the area, seven in total. It generates about $55,000 a month between those sites, Dunlap said.

The coming three months already have activities planned. Visit York County will launch a new website in April. The South Carolina Humanities Festival is coming, as are 20 online influencers from across the country for a three-day tour of the Brew Trail.

The Rivals Regional Football Camp will bring 1,500 football players. The Queen City Showcase will add 200 basketball teams April 13-14.

“They will fill just about every high school gymnasium in York County on that weekend,” Dunlap said.

Other events are planned out further, including the SIAC track and field championships along with the conference’s already booked championships in mens and womens basketball, and volleyball, through 2022.

“Each of those will have a significant economic impact in York County,” Dunlap said.

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John Marks covers community growth, municipalities and general news mainly in the Fort Mill and York County areas. He began writing for the Herald and sister papers in 2005 and won dozens of South Carolina Press Association and other awards since.