A good tourist summer for Beaufort, S. Carolina

The tourism industry in Beaufort County continued to rebound throughout the summer, according to several people in the business.

Explanations were mixed, and room rates remain on the decline in some cases, but all involved reported momentum after foundering in 2009.

Sunny weather in the Lowcountry and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico have driven some people to Beaufort County, but more optimism about the national economy are the primary reason travelers are flocking here as the summer winds down, said Robert Stenhammer, general manager of ResortQuest Hilton Head Island, which manages 450 rental homes and villas.

He estimated bookings were up 10 percent June through August compared to the same period last year.

Consumers continue to shop for the best rate, but they have "a little bit more propensity to travel" this year, he said. "Every call is still a negotiation. We're still in a recession."

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