FLORENCE, SOUTH CAROLINA (WMBF) – The Florence County Visitors Bureau reports that tourism brings in $237 million each year. Off exit 164 on Highway 52, there is a corridor of hotels and restaurants who said they rake in a lot of that money.
Jeff Lee is the owner of Exxon Shoppe, opened 45 years ago. "When we came out here this was all rural," said Lee. "We were the first business built here. Everything else was – farm land,"
Lee said he has watched this area develop into one of Florence County's greatest assets, with more than 20 restaurants and hotels on along the strip. Some of those businesses said most of their customers are travelers passing through to places like Myrtle Beach, Savannah and Florida.
The Manager of FATS said tourist traffic keeps the restaurant busy year-round. Most hotels have said they hit capacity during spring and summer months.
Many businesses spokespersons said they think the area could benefit from a shopping strip, adding tourists are always asking for places to buy things like clothes and groceries.
A spokesperson for the F.C.V.B said they are currently working on a program that will attract more tourists to the area. That program will focus on the rich heritage of South Carolina.