MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - From sweet tea to moonshine, the "liquid assets" of South Carolina will be the centerpiece of a new tourism marketing campaign for 2016.
The "Satisfy Your Thirst" initiative, launched by the state's tourism office in February, promotes the distinctive beverages produced and sold in South Carolina, and encourages visitors to discover more.
Several Myrtle Beach wineries and breweries are participating, saying this is what they need to help their businesses thrive.
"We're giving consumers a refreshing new look at the Palmetto State to help them consider us for their future vacations," said Duane Parrish, director of the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism (SCPRT,) which administers the state tourism program. "We invite them to sip and see South Carolina and discover the stories behind these places."
According to David Epstein, owner of New South Brewery of Myrtle Beach, people's taste buds are buzzing for craft beverages.
"Craft beer as a whole and across the country is growing," said Epstein.
Epstein said beer tourism is very big, and he added people want to know what's brewing locally when they visit a town or city.
"One of the first things they do is search. Where's the local brewery? What's being made here? What's the local distillery? What's local?" he said.
Epstein added that recent changes in laws have allowed the industry to flourish in S.C. The master brewer said he believes the state has recognized the revenue potential of the industry.
"It's great, as a small business of the state, that the state realizes that and is getting behind it, explained Epstein.
The campaign is modeled after the successful South Carolina Barbecue Trail that brought national attention to South Carolina in 2013.
"It's just another tool that allows folks to come in and the locals too, locals and tourists to come into the area to find us," said Eprstein.
Erica Hines, who owns Boardwalk Winery in Myrtle Beach, said she has already seen the benefits of the tourism campaign.
"I have already seen more calls than I did last year, people asking for my exact location and store hours," Hines explained.
Epstein said nearly five years ago, there were only six breweries in the state. Now, there are more than 26 breweries in South Carolina
He added that now that craft businesses are open to the public, they can benefit from distribution and retail.
More than 90 establishments are listed on the tour map. They include:
- Bottlers like the Blenheim Plant in Hamer,
- Dairies like Hickory Hill Milk in Edgefield,
- Breweries like the Hub City Tap House in Spartanburg,
- Distilleries like Daufuskie Island Rum Company, and
- Wineries and vineyards like La Belle Amie in Little River.
Also on the list is the Charleston Tea Plantation on Wadmalaw Island. All properties offer tours of their production facilities and product sampling.
SCPRT will be taking the campaign on the road this year as well, participating in Atlanta's Food and Wine Festival in June and Greenville's Euphoria Food and Wine Festival in September. The agency recently participated in the Charleston Wine+Food Festival.
Hines said Satisfy Your Thirst will add a layer of culture that South Carolina can offer.