A channel on a popular online video site is the latest effort by the Union County Tourism Commission to promote tourism in Union County.
In 2010, tourism from domestic visitors alone brought in $11.3 million in revenue to Union County. Increasing the number of visitors to Union County and the revenue their visits generate is the goal of the Union County Tourism Commission. The commission has taken a number of steps in recent months toward achieving that goal, the latest being the creation of a channel on Youtube designed to promote the county.
“We’ve create a Youtube channel called ‘Experience Union,’ ” Tourism Commission Executive Director Will Boyles said. “What we’ve got up there now is a first draft of a commission video promoting Union. If you type in Experience Union, South Carolina it will be the first thing that pops up.
“I started it because if you go to Youtube and type in Union, South Carolina, you get stuff all over the map,” he said. “There really wasn’t anything promoting Union County. That’s why we started this first draft.”
Boyles said the “rough draft” of the video now available features photos with captions set to music “giving a general sense of what Union County has to offer in the way of tourism.” Historic and other sites featured in the video include Rose Hill, the Timken Sports Complex, the Union County Dragway, the Inn at Merridun, and Nicholson Mansion.
The video is only the first of many Boyles said the tourism commission will be filming and posting online to get the word out about tourism opportunities in Union County.
“During the next few weeks we will be filming on the Historic Trail,” Boyles said. “We plan to start with an overview of the Historic Trail, then possibly visit and film certain sites to give people an idea of what they are, where they are and how to get there.”
“Experience Union will be a place other than our website and Channel 14 for other people to view the videos and learn more about Union County,” he said. “It broadens our reach for those who don’t go on our website or watch Channel 14, especially those outside the area. It is a platform to give more exposure for our area for those those who might not live in the immediate vicinity.”
The Experience Union platform on Youtube is the latest in a series of steps taken by the tourism commission to promote tourism in Union County. The process took its biggest step in December with the inauguration of the Union County Historic Trail, which features 23 historic sites throughout much of Union County. The trail, which was developed by the commission in cooperation with the Union County Historical Society, begins just inside Laurens County and runs east of Monarch. It includes:
• Musgrove Mill Battlefield State Historic Site
• Blackstock Battlefield
• Cross Keys Plantation
• Padgett’s Creek Baptist Church
• Flint Hill
• Rose Hill Plantation State Park
• Gov. David Johnson House
• Fairforest Baptist Church Historical Marker
• Nicholson Mansion Bed And Breakfast
• Union County Jail
• Union County Courthouse
• Union Community Hospital
• Corinth Baptist Church
• Union County Museum
• Gov. Jeter/Sarratt House
• Presbyterian Cemetery
• Culp-Beaty Hall
• Dawkins House/One-Time SC State Capital
• Wallace House
• Episcopal Church Of The Nativity
• Union County Carnegie Library
• Site Of Union Church, 1783-1819
Each site on the trail is marked by a sign in the shape of Union County which features the site’s name and a number that corresponds to the number on a map of the trail developed by a special committee of the commission. The map is included in a brochure about the trail available to the public locally at the Union County Arts Council, Union County Carnegie Library, Union County Chamber of Commerce, Merridun, and area motels. Copies of the brochures are also available at the state’s nine welcome centers.
The brochure also features photos of each site, some of its history, and directions. There are also photos of scenes from around the county and historic and recreational activities.
The trail began attracting visitors almost immediately, beginning with a group of seventh grade students from Beaufort Academy College Preparatory School. The students, who were studying state history, visited the Union County Museum, Rose Hill Plantation State Park, and Flint Hill.
In March, the commission hosted a tourism summit at the Union County Advanced Technology Center involving representatives of tourism commissions of Newberry, Fairfield, Cherokee and Spartanburg counties; Upstate organizations such as Ten at the Top and the Olde English District; and the Union County Museum/Historical Society. The goal of the summit was to promote an exchange of ideas between county and regional tourism organizations and explore areas for a regional, cooperative approach to the promotion of tourism.
In February, Boyles and tourism commission chair Curtiss Hunter attended the 2012 Governor’s Conference on Tourism and Travel where both attended a workshop on qualifying for grant funding, including the proper way to write and submit grant requests.
Boyles said the commission is currently working on obtaining a 501c3 designation as a non-profit organization. He said this will enable the commission to apply for a wide variety of grants and participate in a number of programs that can help it promote tourism.