Hartsville cashes in on tourism efforts - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Hartsville cashes in on tourism efforts

HARTSVILLE, SC (WMBF) - When you think of tourism, you may picture sun, sand, and tourist attractions. But now a city inland is trying to attract tourists for other reasons.

The City of Hartsville has created a new Tourism Office with plans to use special events and technology to get your attention.

Jessica Cohen is the recently appointed Director of Tourism and Special Events in Hartsville. It is a new position in a newly created office. She plans to spearhead a new App for visitors and neighbors alike to navigate events and attractions.

"Everyone is on their phones nowadays so if we're putting the information on a platform they're already using? We have to reach them," explained Cohen.

It will be similar to Yelp or TripAdvisor, showing you the closest hotels, restaurants, and attractions based off your GPS location.

"I like to think of Hartsville, and excuse my basketball analogy, like an undersized post player. But we don't consider ourselves to be undersized. We compete and try to facilitate like any other city," she added.

As a former basketball player at Coker College, Cohen is taking her competitive spirit to make Hartsville part of the tourism competition, especially with sports events.

"It has the potential to host big name tournaments. The Dixie Ponytails World Series will be at Byerly Park, we have that to look forward to this summer," said Cohen.

Already Hartsville hosts participants from events ranging from beauty pageants to dog shows and NASCAR races. As Cohen pointed out, the city sees an increase in traffic when neighboring cities hold events. The hotels in Hartsville already serve as a home-away-from-home for those participants, and she wants to capitalize on that.

"When you go there for tournaments you stay there for three or four days and you're eating there. So, not only are they generating more accommodations tax, but hospitality tax as well," she said while talking about the potential business the new office can bring into the city-limits.

She's compiling a guidebook with all county facilities along with natural resources, meeting spaces and hotels.

"So, when I go to trade shows and meet with directors or sports teams I can put something in their hands and encourage them to use us for their events," explained Cohen.

As Cohen continues to work on tourism efforts, she also continues on developing that App. She said you can expect to see it roll out on your smartphone this fall.

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