Those of us who live in the Hilton Head area love it. So do the visitors.
That’s why they keep coming back here to relax, play golf or tennis or indulge in other outdoor and water activities, dine out and, of course, have fun in the sun on our beaches.
Tourism here is booming, according to initial marketing indicators. More than 2.6 million visitors visited the island last season, and 2015 will be another banner season from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day this year. September and October, the shoulder tourist season along with springtime, also will be hot.
“Last season was a record-setting season for tourism,” said Charlie Clark, vice president of communications for the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce. “Hilton Head is a place to relax, rejuvenate, reconnect with your family and friends, and that is more important now than ever … and the natural beauty of Hilton Head really resonates with visitors.”
“Relaxation” tops the list of reasons why visitors choose the island for their getaway to paradise. It’s no surprise that water sports, golf and tennis score high in popularity. Arts and culture also are on the to-do lists of many vacationers.
“There’s so much going on,” said Clark, who moved to the island in 2001. “It runs the gamut, because there are so many possibilities on Hilton Head Island.”
A large segment of tourists heads south from the Northeast, especially from New York. Ohio ranked second, followed by Pennsylvania and Atlanta.
The average length of stay, Clark said, is six days, which is due in large part to the availability of accommodations. Tourists have their choice of about 6,000 homes and villas and 3,000 hotel rooms from which to pick.
Although the Chamber is not in the business of projecting tourism numbers, Clark did say that advance reservations are up 5.6 percent this year over last.
Overall, tourism here is a win-win-win for visitors, local businesses and the town government through accommodations and hospitality taxes, because about $1.6 billion was injected into the local economy last year.
Dean Rowland is a veteran senior editor and freelance writer living in Bluffton.