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South Carolina’s official tourism slogan is “Made for Vacation” and having posted record-breaking numbers for six consecutive years — tourism reached $22.6 billion in economic impact in 2018 — it’s fair to say the Palmetto State is living up to the hype.

From the Blue Ridge Mountains, to the myriad of historical sites, to mile upon mile of white-sand beaches, Discover South Carolina, the state’s official tourism site, is promoting these attractions to Chinese vacationers.

It’s two main tactics? Partnering with other destination marketing organizations (DMOs) and working closely with international airlines.

Strategic DMO partnerships

South Carolina’s tourism office works with travel groups Travel South USA and Brand USA in promoting the state to Chinese tourists through social media and online targeting.

Travel South USA gives South Carolina access to expert travel trade tactics including sales missions, trade shows, and regional training. For example, the agency recently released a promotional film celebrating Dixieland aimed at adventurous millennials including Chinese FIT’s. The video showcased road trippers starting at Hilton Head, driving onto Charleston, Myrtle Beach, and Greenville.

On the social media front, Travel South USA’s WeChat account is a heavy hitter. It ranked #9 in a Dragon Trail Interactive’s 2018 survey of 47 Overseas National Tourism Organizations (NTOs) with a total 236,257 views.

As a member of the Brand USA partner program, South Carolina reaches millions of Chinese travelers with a custom-built campaign page promoting bookable products supported by advertising on online Chinese travel agent Ctrip.

America’s DMO also promotes unique local experiences to Chinese millennial travelers with the “I Know This Spot” Chinese-English digital travel series, where leading Chinese influencer Jessica Beinecke bridges cultural and language barriers as she highlights U.S. destinations in exciting travel videos. The vlogs have been viewed 100+ million times on Chinese social media. In addition, Brand USA frequently pushes South Carolina’s digital and social content on platforms such as WeChat and Weibo.

Travel South USA WeChat

South Carolina is promoted by Travel South USA’s WeChat. Image: WeChat.

South Carolina air connections

Securing direct flights is a game-changer for cities and states alike and should be a priority for DMOs. For example, the newly launched nonstop Charleston-London route is set to bring an annual economic impact of $20.2 million, These flights make South Carolina an even more viable candidate for economic development,” said Bobby Hitt, State Commerce Secretary, “[they] enhance the state’s marketability for both international business and leisure.”

South Carolina’s air connections with China are also growing with Delta Airlines offering nonstop flights between Shanghai Pudong International Airport and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport — a two hour journey from Charlotte.

As the region grows its connections with China, expect the state to reap benefits.

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