COLUMBIA, S.C. (Tuesday, August 21, 2012) - Last year alone, roughly 36,000 soldiers graduated basic combat training and 8,000 soldiers graduated advanced individual training from Fort Jackson. Because of these events, more than 100,000 individuals visited the Columbia region. To ensure these individuals are welcomed and informed once they arrive, the Columbia Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) is present, providing information on the area's offerings.

"As the Columbia region's official tourism authority, we make it a priority to be on site at major events surrounding the Fort Jackson graduations," said Ric Luber, President and CEO of the Midlands Authority for Conventions, Sports & Tourism.

Visitors flock to the Columbia area nearly every week to attend basic combat training on Thursday mornings. Such events take place roughly 40 times during the year.

In FY 11-12, accommodations tax collections in the Columbia region increased over FY 10-11, indicating that more out-of-town visitors were staying in hotels in the area. In addition to Fort Jackson visitors, the Columbia CVB also attracts leisure visitors, meetings and conventions to the region to drive economic impact.

"Many times, the friends and families traveling to the region to watch their loved ones graduate have never been here before," said Luber. "We want to welcome them, showcase our many hot spots and hopefully turn them into repeat visitors."

In addition to having a physical presence on base distributing visitors guides and information to attendees, the Columbia CVB created a webpage and microsite with even more resources for soldiers and their families including area accommodations, information on attractions across the region, directions, restaurants, nightlife and coupons available specifically for their use.

Encompassing more than 52,000 acres east of Columbia, Fort Jackson is the largest, most active Initial Entry Training Center in the United States Army, providing training to more than 44,000 soldiers each year. Roughly 50 percent of new soldiers train at Fort Jackson each year and an impressive 55 percent of women entering the Army train at Fort Jackson.

About the Midlands Authority for Conventions, Sports & Tourism:
The Midlands Authority for Conventions, Sports & Tourism is a private, not-for-profit corporation funded primarily by revenue generated by visitors through accommodations taxes and is the parent organization of Columbia Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau, Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, and Columbia Regional Sports Council. The mission of the Midlands Authority is to strengthen the area's economy by marketing and selling of the entire Columbia region, its accommodations, restaurants, facilities and attractions as a destination for meetings, conventions, tradeshows, special events and leisure travel. For more information, please visit