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New Report Shows Hospitality Job Growth in South Carolina Ranks Poorly;
Texas Leads with Highest Number of Jobs Added

By Jake Spring, The Sun News, Myrtle Beach, S.C.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Oct. 17, 2010--South Carolina stacks up poorly when it comes to hospitality employment, despite improvements in Grand Strand tourism coming out of the recession.

A report by Buffalo Business First ranks South Carolina ninth worst for hospitality employment growth since 2005. That's because the state doesn't have other strong industries to underpin its growth, said Robert Salvino, a professor at the Wall College of Business at Coastal Carolina University.

Travel for business, not leisure, accounts for the growth in states such as Texas and New York -- the two highest ranked states, Salvino said. Business travelers spend money at hotels and restaurants but aren't considered tourists, he said.

"It's part of the economy healing itself, but it's not the tourism industry that heals first," Salvino said.

For the Grand Strand, the other major businesses -- real estate and construction -- have not fared well, he said. Workers in those industries do spend significant dollars at hospitality businesses, but only when their own business is good, he said.

Here are some highlights from the rankings, with the number of hospitality jobs added or lost:

1. Texas: +108,700

2. New York: +52,200

3. North Carolina: +26,600

8. Georgia: +15,400

22. California: +2,400

42. South Carolina: -2,300

43. Hawaii: -2,800

49. Florida: -27,000

50. Nevada: -27,500

The results of such a ranking are suspect, said Bob Becker, a professor in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management at Clemson University.

"This index is confounded because they don't separate out discretionary hospitality from business hospitality," Becker said.

States with major metropolitan areas also came out on top because their large populations drive business, and South Carolina just can't compete when it comes to big cities, he said.

Compared to fellow leisure-dominant destinations, South Carolina fared relatively well, outranking Hawaii, Florida and Nevada.

North Carolina's hospitality industry has done legitimately well, regardless of the metric, because the state is so diversified, Becker said. The state has business hubs in Charlotte and Raleigh and for vacation it has the coast and mountains, he said.

Tourism on the Grand Strand grew in 2010 over 2009, but that hasn't translated to many new hospitality jobs. Employers have used overtime and temporary workers, or just run understaffed, as they hold out for the economy to improve, said Brad Dean, president and chief executive of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. Tourism businesses won't decide how many people to hire until next spring as the vacationseason heats up, he said.

"It remains to be seen whether those businesses will plan to hire more in 2011, but clearly we have a number of able workers seeking jobs right now," Dean said.

Contact JAKE SPRING at 626-0310.


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