Dr. Andrew J. Beall, Executive Director of the Santa Elena Foundation, and Dr. Charles L. Calvert, Chair of the University of South Carolina Beaufort Department of Hospitality and Tourism, are invited to present tourism research at the 35th Annual Conference of the Resort and Commercial Recreation Association (RCRA). The RCRA Board of Directors accepted the two researchers as presenters at the 2015 National Conference to be held at Captiva Island, Florida on November 7 through 11.
The Santa Elena Foundation, organized in 2014, is dedicated to research and public education. The Foundation will open an interpretive center this year and plans to open an inaugural exhibit in 2016, the 450th commemorative year of the founding of a Spanish settlement in the Port Royal Sound. Beall and Calvert investigated the likely economic impact of history and cultural tourism on Beaufort County from a new Santa Elena History Center. The success of comparable history centers, parks, and monuments was investigated first, leading to the conclusion that 50,000 or more annual visitors will be attracted to a new feature in Beaufort County.
After completing the initial study conducted in 2014, the researchers recommended visitor demand be tested further. Two questions were added to the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce visitor survey. Respondents recorded overwhelming interest to visit a new history center dedicated to the interpretation of 16th Century European settlement in the area of Port Royal Sound.
Beall and Calvert will present their tourism research at the upcoming RCRA National Conference to explain how cultural and history tourism is an economic driver for the local community. Fully developed, the planned Santa Elena History Center may be the catalyst for a 5-10% increase in hospitality-related jobs in northern Beaufort County.