SC State Parks shine during recession

At a time when businesses are folding, the South Carolina State Parks system is thriving, even witnessing increased revenues.
Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism officials refer to the park system as their shining star. It has netted $23 million a year for the last three consecutive years. That’s more each year than the parks earned during any of the previous five years.
Phil Gaines directs the park system.  “Our revenues are up, visitation is up,” he said.  “That’s a reflection of our business-like approach, but also it’s the citizens of South Carolina realizing what a value it is to have state parks.  During these tough times, people can reconnect with their state.  This has been a tremendous opportunity for us to get people who traditionally do not come to state parks.”   
Gaines says state parks are on track to have a very good year. And he says there’s an added return for the park system’s doing so well now.  “People are looking for opportunities that allow them to stay closer to home.  And we’re impacting this generation, so that when things get good again, families will have this memory of state parks and we’ll develop a whole new generation of state park users for generations to come.” 
Gaines says the park system owes some of its success to Governor Sanford.  “Since the governor has been in office he has challenged us to be more business-like and use those principles while focusing in on what our core mission is,” said Gaines.  “So what we’ve done in recent years is to focus on efficiencies and the return on investment depending on our core resources.  We’re in a better position today because we were challenged early on.”
Go to for a listing of parks and sales prices.
Gaines says parks are important.  “State parks are a reflection of where the state is at,” said Gaines.  “They are what defines South Carolina, from the mountains to the sea and everywhere in between, and we’re influencing future generations who have not even seen a state park yet.”