Last updated: 09:46 AM ET, Mon February 22 2016

Study: South Carolina Sees Big Tourism Bump From Primary Season

Destination & Tourism | Tim Wood | February 19, 2016

Study: South Carolina Sees Big Tourism Bump From Primary Season

Photo illustration via Flickr/DonkeyHotey

Conventional wisdom around politics tells us that once you get past Iowa and New Hampshire during caucus and primary season, no one really pays attention or cares until Super Tuesday.

Tell that to the political junkies in South Carolina. Early projections show that the caravan that is the 2016 Presidential race will leave a sizeable impact on the state’s bank account.

Researchers for the U.S. Travel Association have looked at total bookings and total dollars spent and are seeing a bigger than usual boon for the state’s tourism industry.

Early trends show that primary pundits are on pace to book an additional 230,000 room nights in the state, compared to non-election years. When multiplied by the state’s average hotel room rate, that adds up to an extra $24.2 million in hotel revenue. While it’s hard to predict just how long the politically minded tourists are staying, economists say those numbers point to a politics-fueled surge.

PHOTO: Hardball's Chris Matthews interviewed Republican presidential hopeful John Kasich Feb. 17 at Bluffton BBQ in Bluffton, SC. (Photo via MSNBC)

READ MORE: 8 Things to Do in South Carolina While Following the Candidates

The unique structure of South Carolina’s primaries may play into the big numbers. The state holds its Republican primary on Feb. 20 and then holds its Democratic primary a week later on Feb. 27. That adds up to an extra seven days that campaign entourages and political reporters remain stationed in the Palmetto State.

U.S. Travel first measured the 2016 election tourist bump in New Hampshire, where it found an extra 78,400 room nights and $8.9 million in hotel revenue came in during primary years.

"Politicians like to talk about how they have the best plan to create jobs. I wonder if they know they're doing that just by coming to a state and standing on the stump," said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. "Travel and tourism are among the country's most effective job creators by industry. If the candidates want to embrace a job-creating message that's been tested by the evidence, it ought to be, 'Hit the road!'"

READ MORE: Which Vegas Hotels Should Host the Presidential Candidates?

U.S. Travel is using the campaign trail as a place to hit captive audiences with its “travel is important” message. South Carolina is the second stop of the “Travel Means Jobs” advertisements by U.S. Travel. The organization ran the messaging on hotel key cards in South Carolina after running an airport billboard that drew much attention in New Hampshire.

The on-point messaging continues for U.S. Travel throughout this 2016 campaign season, with future messaging planned for Cleveland and Philadelphia for the party conventions and in Las Vegas for the final general election debate.

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