More tourists make Florence County a destination

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - More people are taking advantage of Florence County's outdoor attractions, and new tourism numbers prove it.

Last year, tourism was up in Florence County by $10 million dollars.

The Florence Visitors and Convention Bureau said it's seeing more and more tourists inquiring about Florence County.

“We get, 'What is there to do in Florence?' or 'What is Florence known for?' and 'What's a great place to eat a lot of people want local favor?'” said Jade Perkins Florence Visitors and Convention Bureau.

The bureau then points those people to areas like downtown Florence, which itself is helping to make Florence a destination and not just a place people pass through.

“The downtown [area] is just being revitalized altogether, which is great for us to promote,” Perkins said.

Promotion is also driving tourism.

“Each year, we formulate a marketing plan. Here recently, we have included billboards throughout the state onto neighboring states. We have also increased out digital marketing,” Perkins said.

That digital marketing extends to your smartphone in the form of the Florence app and big ticket events like Artfields, and The Southern 500 pull in repeat visitors.

But there is also a new draw attracting people from across the country.

“Of course, we get the most traffic during the race, race week, but we are seeing year-round travel snow birds coming down,” Perkins said.

The bureau believes more people are traveling because the economy is bouncing back.

It's something the co-owner of Fatz Café has noticed.

“We have had a lot of new people come into the building. We have been up in sales for the last eight years, and that is due largely to amount of tourism coming to Florence County,” Warren Snell, co-owner Fatz Café said.

The restaurant tracks new visitors, by placing a red napkin on the table.

“If you come in on Friday or Saturday night, there is probably 25 to 30 percent of the tables full of red napkins,” said Snell.

The goal at this point is to captivate the new tourism growth and expand it.

“New visitor guide for 2015 with a new focus, so we are just going to put fresh touches on everything and keep the momentum going,” Jade Perkins with the Florence Visitors and Convention Bureau said.

In addition, the bureau is going to update the Florence mobile app and also make some changes to tourism websites.

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