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Tourism and Economic Development

Center of Economic Excellence



Award Amount

$2 million

External Funding Above Match


Research Focus

Tourism is a $17 billion industry in South Carolina. The Center conducts cutting-edge tourism and hospitality research initiatives that will improve South Carolina's competitiveness as a tourism destination.

University Partner

University of South Carolina
Coastal Carolina University


Private Sector Partner

Rawie Murdy

US Travel Association (USTA)

The Tourism and Economic Development Center of Economic Excellence was established to encourage research that is directly applicable to tourism in South Carolina, which is responsible for more than $17 billion dollars in spending and employs approximately 10 percent of the state's workforce. The Center's vision is to become the most respected center for tourism research in the Americas.

In conjunction with industry, faculty and graduate students, the Center performs cutting-edge tourism and hospitality-based research and disseminates and grows this knowledge-base through publications, public seminars, workshops, and forums. Above all, the Center makes explicit the local-to-global connections between tourism and economic development and ensures that research is relevant to South Carolina. This will ultimately improve South Carolina's competitiveness as a tourism destination, thus securing sustainable employment in the tourism sector.

The Center's areas of expertise include destination branding and marketing, sports tourism, film tourism, medical tourism, festivals and events, food and beverage services, hospitality operations, customer service, and consumer trends.

The Center's specific goals are to:

  • Become a one-stop resource of relevant information and intelligence to all South Carolina tourism industry stakeholders.
  • Act as a vehicle for staff, research students, and associates to undertake both applied and academic tourism related research.
  • Disseminate research via symposiums, conferences, research seminars, a web site, newsletters, social networking, and marketing.
  • Train domestic and international leaders and scholars about the tourism industry.
  • Help formulate public- and private sector policies that will lead to improved tourism planning and development in South Carolina.

The Center is currently working with several regions in South Carolina to develop strategies to identify opportunities to increase tourism and related business opportunities.

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