Photo by Andy Brack

Hats off to the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition (SEWE) and the Charleston Wine + Food Festival (W+F) for outstanding attractions this year that opened the annual tourist season with a big bang and injected new life into the local economy.

There were so many people at SEWE in mid-February we thought our shoulders would be rubbed to soreness. And the early entry lines at W+F ’22 in March were so long many must have thought they’d die of thirst. Fortunately, the event had a healthy plethora of tangy drinks and tasty food inside the picture-perfect festival at Riverfront Park in North Charleston.

During the two weekends, about 70,000 people participated, more than half of whom appeared to be from out of town. The direct boost to the local economy over the two long weekends was more than $35 million, with an additional estimated economic spinoff boost of another $70 million. Talk about a great way to help local businesses welcome people back to Charleston! And at the end of the month, expect thousands more to visit for the annual Cooper River Bridge Run.

The pandemic is shifting to an endemic meaning COVID-19 is still with us, but so is our tourism economy — in a great way!

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