Governor presents Tourism Achievement Awards at conference

February 21, 2020

In an awards luncheon at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism and Travel, Governor Henry McMaster recognized people and places who made significant contributions to tourism in South Carolina.

The industry’s highest award, the Governor’s Cup, was presented to Explore Charleston for leading the state’s efforts in establishing direct flights between London’s Heathrow Airport and Charleston International via British Airways. The airline began South Carolina’s first transatlantic passenger air service in April 2019 for the summer season and will resume service in March.

The years-long recruitment effort involved the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, the South Carolina Department of Commerce, Charleston County Economic Development and the Charleston County Aviation Authority. Explore Charleston also launched a significant marketing strategy, including a Facebook Live broadcast called Transatlantic Takeoff, an Instagram campaign called How to BA Local, and hosted the annual meeting of the British Guild of Travel Writers, which included trips around the state. Additionally, Conde Nast Traveler and British Airways’ digital and social platforms hosted a two-month vacation getaway contest, engaging 2.2 million followers.

To date, advance ticket sales are 40 percent higher than last year. The advertising value of international earned media about Charleston grew 78 percent from 2017 to 2019 while the promotion was ongoing ($9.3 million to $16.7 million.) The College of Charleston’s Office of Tourism Analysis estimated the total economic impact generated by the initial season of service was $9.7 million.

The Governor’s Conference on Tourism & Travel is held every winter in South Carolina as an opportunity for industry leaders to network, collaborate and leverage opportunities to grow tourism. For more information, contact Dawn Dawson-House at or 803-734-1779 or 803-467-0202.