Busy weekend good sign for future tourism in the Midlands

More people are expected to visit due to three Hootie and the Blowfish concerts, as well as Saturday's USC-Alabama game

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) —For the next few days, Columbia is set to be the hot-spot in all of the Palmetto State.

With Hootie and the Blowfish in the midst of a three-day set and the Gamecocks setting to square off against Alabama on the gridiron Saturday, many visitors are set to swing by the Midlands.

ABC Columbia’s Tim Scott joins us LIVE from Colonial Life Arena to tell us why some say Columbia is on the verge of something special. Tim?

With the Midlands expected to be a little louder than normal this weekend, some say this newfound energy could do wonders for tourism in the city year-round.

 I think we’ve really turned the corner with people both inside Columbia as well as outside Columbia recognizing what a true destination we are and really enjoying the different assets we have here,” said Kelly Barbrey, the Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Experience Columbia.

Experience Columbia says several hotels in the Midlands are filled up or near capacity this weekend.

Starting off with March Madness this spring, they have noticed new trends that make the Capital City a more appealing spot for tourists.

“People are really starting to talk a little more about how Columbia and the University of South Carolina are great hosts. We have wonderful tailgating, a great vibe. Our fans are friendly here,” Barbrey said.

Some say with many activities across the Midlands, the fun doesn’t stop at the gates of William-Brice Stadium.

“We have something other cities in the state don’t have and it’s this manageable urban vibe, and then they see what a great zoo we have and what a great children’s museum we have, and then they say, ‘well, I’m going to bring my family back here.’ Those are all things that really make this destination unique,” Barbrey said.

Others say the first impression makes a big difference.

“Tourism is driven by experience. If you come and have a fantastic experience. That impression is in their mind and they’ll probably come back,” said Rich Harrill, the Director of the University of South Carolina’s International Tourism Research Institute.

Experience Columbia says some events that should see a spike in attendance this weekend include the Soda City Market and the Color of Music event at Allen University.

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