Photo by Leslie Cross on Unsplash

Consumer surveys showed South Carolina’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism that state park traffic saw significant bumps during summer 2020 compared to 2019, despite a month-long closure in the early days of quarantine.

“Despite being completely closed for over a month … visitation at parks since May has been up across the board,” said State Parks Director Paul McCormack. “We recognize the vital role our parks have played in giving visitors a chance to get away, even if just for a few hours.”

Though the parks no longer track attendance, according to Communications Director Dawn Dawson-House, park managers and rangers noticed a higher number of visitors, and occupancy and revenue numbers are evidence of greater use in state parks.

Campground occupancy was just shy of 62% in May-June 2020 compared to 56.5% during the same period last year. (That’s including May, when parks were not fully open due to the quarantine.)

Notably, state parks stayed popular longer as well, with occupancy hovering around 61% between July and November 2020. The number dropped to just below 49% during the same period last year.

Cabin occupancy is up to 78.75% between July and November 2020 compared to only 65.5% last year.

“It has only been through the hard work of a dedicated team and the cooperation of an understanding public that we have been able to manage the crowds and provide the experiences and resources, that have for many, become a highlight of a stress-filled year,” McCormack said.