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Tourism: State park will rebuild campground lost to Hurricane Hugo

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Huntington Beach State Park will add 50 new campsites next year, members of Georgetown County Council learned this week.

J.W. Weatherford, the park’s assistant manager, told members of the council during the public comment portion of their meeting Tuesday that attendance and income at the park are hitting record levels. The new campsites will be at the south end of the park, the location of a campground destroyed by Hurricane Hugo and allowed to return to natural wildlife habitat.

Weatherford said Huntington Beach State Park is No. 1 in South Carolina in sales of passports that allow yearly entry to facilities for a single fee. “That goes to show that a lot of our local folks take advantage of our park,” he said. “We pride ourselves as being best value in town.”

Admission revenue has gone up steadily, he said, even though the park has not raised prices. Camping revenues have climbed considerably with the institution of “dynamic pricing” where fees are higher in prime times. South Carolina residents continue to be the park’s most prevalent visitors followed by those from North Carolina and Quebec.

Weatherford said Gov. Nikki Haley issued a mandate to state parks three years ago to become 100 percent self-sufficient with the goal of keeping all 47 parks open. Statewide, the parks have reached 94 percent self-sufficiency. Huntington Beach State Park was 103 percent self-sufficient with a $52,000 surplus when the mandate was issued. Today, Weatherford said, the park is 138 percent self-sufficient with a budget surplus of $820,000.

The park will be busy later this month when it hosts the 40th annual Atalaya Arts and Crafts Festival Sept. 25-27. The festival features more than 100 artists and craftsmen selling wares in the Moorish castle built by Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington. Park entry fee is $8 for a single day and $10 for a multi-day pass.

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