CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Overseas visitation to the South, already
booming during the past decade, should continue to grow by about 4%
a year through 2001, according to a study released by Travel South
The regional tourism organization, which held its annual
marketplace here earlier this month, commissioned the study by CIC
Research in San Diego, which based its projections solely on
If the projections prove accurate, the 12 Travel South states
will welcome more than 8.6 million overseas visitors in 2001. That
would follow a 118% increase in such visitors from 1988 to 1998,
compared with 89% for the rest of the U.S., the study showed.
The vast majority of those visitors to the South, however, are
going to Florida. That is what four in every five did in 1998, and
the gap between Florida and the other 11 states is even larger for
some key overseas markets, such as the U.K., and, overwhelmingly,
Argentina and Brazil.
But Glenn Couvillion, Travel South's managing director, said
other states in the region can use the drawing power of Florida to
"International visitors don't sit in one place for three weeks,"
Couvillion said. "The majority do go to Florida, but we can spin
off of that. Every international show we go to, they want
Florida, he added later, has "gotten [overseas visitors] into
the South, and it's our job now to spread them around the
Some other states already do make a mark, the study found.
Georgia, getting a boost from its hub airport in Atlanta and its
reputation as a convention city, attracted 8.6% of overseas
visitors to the South in 1998.
The state is preparing a global marketing campaign targeted to
niche markets such as shopping, sports and ecotourism.
Virginia, benefiting from its proximity to Washington, attracted
5.3%. North Carolina and Louisiana also are having some success,
with the latter exemplifying the multistate payoff: More than half
of its visitors also went to Florida.
Tennessee attracted 3% of overseas travelers to the South in
1998, and South Carolina got 2.8%. But none of the other five
states attracted more than 1.1%.
Among the ways states can improve their numbers, Couvillion
said, is by joining in themed itineraries that include more than
one southern state, or emphasizing features that appeal to an
Atlanta, New Orleans and Nashville, for example, market a music
program in the U.K. called Rhythms of the South. Food itineraries
emphasize Creole cuisine and barbecue in several states.
South Carolina is emphasizing its golf courses and beaches, and
North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia are putting together
golf packages for tourists from Germany, the U.K. and Japan.