Clemson International Institute for Tourism Research & Development

Research Project

Visitor Needs Assessment and Economic Analysis at South Carolina Beaches

Investigators: Chi-Ok Oh (Assistant Professor, RTTI)
Graduate Students: Anthony Dixon (PRTM) and Jason Draper (PRTM)
Funding Source:
South Carolina Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM), Department of Health & Environmental Control (SCDHEC)

Download June 2006 Report

Project Description:
The purpose of this study was to assist the office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM), South Carolina Department of Health & Environment Control (SCDHEC) to better understand visitor information by conducting economic impact and valuation studies and visitors’ needs assessment in terms of public beach access and associated facilities and analysis of current and projected visitor trends. The report was written to help develop management strategies and priorities for improving such public access — including feasible alternative funding sources and strategies to acquire beachfront property and the long-term funding sources needed to develop and maintain the facilities in local and regional parks.

The report includes several specific objectives. First, the report provides an overview of South Carolina beach destination visitors’ trip characteristics, satisfaction and demographics. Second, the report projects current and future user recreational needs using various time-series secondary data sets to determine demand for beach access and facilities. The report also includes potential financing options to acquire and maintain access properties. An input-output model estimates the extent direct, indirect and induced economic impact. The report identifies beach visitors’ economic benefits of the development and maintenance of additional beach access points with parking spaces and other preferred facilities. Finally, the report determines the extent of the visitor (or user) needs to define demands for recreational use in beach access and facilities.

This study included a convenience sample of South Carolina beach visitors to Charleston, Hilton Head and Myrtle Beach during the months of March and April 2006. Names and addresses were collected from 495 visitors intercepted on the beach and mailed a followup questionnaire during April and May 2006 using a modified Dillman Total Design Survey Method (1978). Results are based on a sample size of 198.