Capital City/Lake Murray Country Regional Tourism Board Annual Meeting Reports Record Tourism Numbers
August 29, 2023
The Capital City/Lake Murray Country Regional Tourism Board’s (CCLMC) Annual Meeting was held on Monday, August 28 at Harbison Theatre. The meeting provided an opportunity for the tourism community and political allies to learn what the organization accomplished in 2022-23 by promoting tourism and economic development in Richland, Lexington, Newberry, and Saluda counties.
For over 16 years, CCLMC has produced a national TV ad that airs all across the U.S. This year it went international on Careco TV through the reruns of the XVI World Bass Championship along with airing on various television shows and over 6 fishing tournament events shows. “Recently the Academy of Interactive & Visual Arts selected our TV ad for the 2023 Communicator Award. This award serves as a strong validation that what we are doing is resonating with visitors and our industry,” stated Miriam Atria, President/CEO of CCLMC. She went on to include that “Bassmaster has named Lake Murray #1 “Best Southeastern Bass Lake” and #4 in the US in their 2023 100 Best Bass Lakes Revealed list.”
The organization’s marketing investment continues to pay off resulting in over 200 articles published on the region resulting in over 409 million impressions. Through the “Playcation Campaign” advertisements were placed in Garden & Gun, National Geographic Traveler, OurState, Southern Travel + Lifestyle, and Travel, Taste + Tour, and many more marketing the region’s primary season to visitors. The “Top Fishing Destination Campaign” saw advertisements placed in BASS Magazine, the MLF Fishing Calendar, USA Today’s Hunt & Fish Magazine, and more. CCLMC saw a substantial rise in social media impressions, Facebook rose over 240%, Instagram 377%, and YouTube views totaled over 98,000. “LakeMurrayCountry.com had strong impressions this past year, including a record-breaking 17 million Google Search impressions and demographics trended younger capturing Gen X and Millennial travelers. Top reporting states on the website include SC, GA, NC, NY, VA, FL, OH, MI, IN, PA,” reported Micah Decker, VP of Marketing & Communications.
CCLMC had a bustling year hosting thousands of Anglers, family members, and fans during the Bass World Championship. For the first time on US soil, 25 nations came together and the region delivered! CCLMC also hosted the SC Welcome Centers Conference and the SC Congressional Fam Tour – all in the month of October 2022. The impact continued into 2023 with CCLMC hosting Major League Fishing’s Bass Pro Tour and Bassmaster Elite Series resulting in a combined economic impact of $6 million along with national TV coverage on Fox Sports 1 featuring Dreher Island State Park in Newberry County. Other significant events hosted by CCLMC include the Queen City Kayak Bass Fishing Tournament, the Lexington County Ag+Art Tour, Golf media writers, and the Jewel Tri. Additionally, CCLMC reported that over 170,000 room nights were booked in 2022-23 and $37 million in revenue was generated by short-term rentals. More travelers stayed in short-term rentals this June than any June on record. Demand nights rose over 14% from the previous year and revenue from June 2022-23 increased by $1 million. Stays in June 2023 resulted in $4.6 million in revenue equal to quadruple the rentals of Lakes Marion, Moultrie, and Norman combined.
“2023-24 will prove to be an even more successful year bringing 2 of the top 3 fishing tournament trails to the region (soon to be announced), one that we can announce is the USA Bass Kayak Tournament,” stated Vickie Davis, VP of Special Events & Funding at CCLMC. Additionally, CCLMC will host Fishing University, BAMA Q Steak Cook-off, the SC Outdoor Press Association, Bass Nation and the Queen City Kayak Championships. Save the date for Taste of Lake Murray on March 21, 2024, at the DoubleTree by Hilton. This annual event is the signature fundraising event for the 4th of July Celebration on Lake Murray.
CCLMC is proud to announce that their newest event the Southeastern BBQ Showdown will be held June 2024 at Segra Park and will mark the first food sport competition to be held in a sports stadium in the US. “The event will feature a main stage championship competition with over 30 BBQ teams from across the SE along with ancillary events and national and regional vendors. The main goal of this event is to attract tourists to the event as well as regional visitors,” stated Miriam Atria, President/CEO of CCLMC.
2023-2024 events were announced: Save the Date!
6-8: Fishing University
9: Queen City Kayak Bass Tournament
29-30: BAMA-Q Grilling on the Lake
4-8: SCOPA Conference
13-14: SC Bass Nation at Dreher Island State Park
8-12: World Food Championship in Dallas, TX
14: CCLMC Holiday Open House Gift Shop Sale
2: CCLMC Christmas Light Boat Parade
21: Taste of Lake Murray
TBA: London Golf Group
25-28: USA Kayak Fishing Team Qualifier
26-28: Big Bass Tour
14-15: Southeastern BBQ Showdown at Segra Park
29: Queen City Kayak Bass Championship
29: 4th of July Celebration on Lake Murray
26-29: Pan American Kayak Fishing Championship
Awards and Honors Presented:
- Media Partner of the Year: Chase Heatherly, Post & Courier
- Partner of the Year: Debbie LaFayette, The LaFayette Team
Vickie Davis was also honored at the Annual Meeting for 8 years of service. Vickie started with Capital City/Lake Murray Country back in 2015 as a consultant for the production of special events, primarily the Taste of Lake Murray and the 4th of July Celebration on Lake Murray held annually. In 2021, Vickie came on board full-time as the Manager of Special Events. The amount of business now coming into the region from fishing tournaments and other outdoor recreation events has led to a new addition to Vickie’s staff. Vickie was also honored for raising over $1.1 million dollars through the production of Taste of Lake Murray and corporate sponsorships. “We are so proud of the energy, enthusiasm, and detailed professionalism Vickie has brought to our organization. Through these local and corporate sponsorship funds, we are able to guarantee an amazing firework show and not have to pull the dollars from our marketing budget”, stated Miriam Atria, President/CEO. Vickie has also spent a lot of time away from her family traveling across the U.S. and manages/directs the implementation of major events coming to the region.
CCLMC Elected Two New Board Members:
- Buddy Jennings, former SCPRT Director
- Jan Jernigan, Morgan Stanley and former Commodore of the Columbia Sailing Club
- Andy Marchant, Cinnamon Hill Catering
They join the current CCLMC board of directors: Ryan Wingard, Dian Berry, Brad Rutherford, Gettys Brannon, Brandon Crutchfield, and Rick Lackland.
Ex-Officio Board Members Submitted for Service:
- Senator Katrina Shealy – SC Senate, District 23
- Representative Nathan Ballentine – SC House of Representatives, District 71
- Representative Paula Rawl Calhoon – SC House of Representatives, District 87
- Representative Chris Wooten – SC House of Representatives, District 69
- Honorable Debbie Summers – Lexington County Council, District 4
- Honorable Larry Brigham – Lexington County Council, District 2
- Honorable Todd Johnson – Newberry County Council, Chair
- Honorable Jim Moore – Saluda County Council, Chair
- Honorable Derrek Pugh – Richland County Council, District 2
- Honorable Jason Branham – Richland County Council, District 1
- Honorable Howard E. Duvall – City of Columbia Council, At-Large
- Honorable Tina Herbert – City of Columbia Council, District 1
- Mrs. Iris N. Griffin – Dominion Energy, VP of Fossil Hydro Operations
- Mr. Mike Valk – Honorary Ex-Officio
CCLMC Visitor’s Center welcomed a record-breaking 132,242 visitors to the region last year. So, make sure to stop by for a visit! “We also have over 400 + sections of literature and lots of regional information covering the four counties and our beautiful state” stated Joanie Hess, Concierge at CCLMC. The new 2023-2024 visitors guide will be available this fall. Locals and visitors are encouraged to pick up a guide at the Visitor’s Center (after the social media announcement), located at 2184 N. Lake Drive, Columbia.
“The Lake Murray Destination Landmark is officially complete with the landscaping phase set to begin soon. CCLMC thanks Stewart Mungo and Jake Moore for their help and time during this final phase of work,” stated Miriam Atria, President/CEO of CCLMC
About Capital City/Lake Murray Country Regional Tourism Board:
CCLMC is the official source for all things Lake Murray Country. To plan your next trip, find information on attractions, dining, hotels, outdoor recreation, fishing, golf, and events. Explore The Top Southern Destinations of Columbia, Richland, Lexington, Newberry, and Saluda. For more information about CCLMC visit LakeMurrayCountry.com or call 803-781-5940 | 1-866-SC-Jewel.