Those who were involved in the Regional Tourism Summit hosted by the Union County Tourism Commission on Friday say the event was a learning experience for all.
The Regional Tourism Summit was held at the Union County Advanced Technology Center from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. and was followed by a luncheon also held at the center.
The event began with a welcome from the new tourism commission chair Curtiss Hunter, which was followed by an introduction from commission executive director Will Boyles. Boyles said he considered the summit to be a starting point, and he was glad to have representatives from throughout the Upstate region under one roof to network and exchange information, giving updates about activities taking place in their respective counties.
“We have to market Union, but we’re not going to get there by ourselves,” Boyles said. “We have to market as a whole, too.”
Those who gave presentations included Kayla Robbs of Cherokee County, Terry Vickers of Fairfield County, Jayne Scarborough of the Old English Tourism District, Ted Smith of Newberry County, Chris Jennings of Spartanburg County, Dean Hybl of Ten at the Top, Bennish Brown of Rock Hill/York County County Visitors Bureau, Ola Jean Kelly of the Union County Museum/Historical Society, and Boyles for Union County.
Presenters spoke about tourism-related activities — government-, civic group-, and citizen-driven — and the steps taken to facilitate those activities.
Following the presentations, those present broke into groups for table discussions regarding history/genealogy, marketing, outdoor/sports activities and festivals/farmer’s markets. Table discussions allowed for participants to focus on a particular area and discuss and share ideas in greater detail.
Hunter — who became the tourism commission chair in January — said the event was a learning experience for her, and she felt that it was for everyone else as well. She said the event was indicative of the helpful relationships various counties and entities from the Upstate could have with one another.
One example of this was a connection made at the summit between the Union County Fair Board and Ten at the Top. As a result of networking during the summit, Ten at the Top will now market the Union County Fair to all 10 counties that make up South Carolina’s Upstate region.
Ten at the Top is an information hub which was created to foster a spirit of cooperation and collaboration among public, private and nonprofit leaders from across the 10-county Upstate South Carolina region. Ten at the Top members created what is known as “Our Upstate Vision,” which represents a picture of what residents want the Upstate to aspire to over the next two decades. The vision calls for the 10-county Upstate region in 2030 to be universally recognized as one of the leading places in the United States to live, learn, do business and raise a family.
Plans for Friday’s summit were first announced in December with a subcommittee of the tourism commission charged with organizing the event. Boyles said some may not realize that tourism is a major part of Union County’s economy. In 2010, tourism from domestic travelers alone generated $11.3 million in revenue.
For more information about the summit and tourism in Union County call Will Boyles at (864) 441-2426.