Columbia, SC - (September 15, 2008) South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation, & Tourism (SCPRT), along with consultants from Ireland-based Tourism Development International, will inventory the Columbia area's current and future tourism products this month. SCPRT's goal is to inventory eight regions in South Carolina and identify projects that enhance the state's tourism industry. The Central Core Region, which includes Lexington and Richland counties and the City of Columbia, is the second area to be inventoried for inclusion in the overall statewide plan. A series of site visits and public meetings have been scheduled to view the region and discuss development projects that support tourism.

A tour of Lexington County will take place September 18-20, 2008 with a public meeting scheduled on Monday, September 22 at 7:00 p.m. at Saluda Shoals Park Environmental Center located at 5605 Old Bush River Road. Tours of Richland County and the City of Columbia will be September 22-24 with a public meeting scheduled on Tuesday, September 23 at 6:00 p.m. in the Carolina Room of the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center located at 1101 Lincoln Street. The public is invited to attend and share any ideas, plans, or future development projects.

Ric Luber, member of the stakeholders steering committee, states, "Tourism is a $1 billion industry in this region, and this plan will help us identify major projects that can be developed to bring additional visitors to the area."

The Midlands Authority for Conventions, Sports & Tourism is the parent organization to the Columbia Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, the Columbia Metropolitan Visitors Center, and the Columbia Regional Sports Council. The organization was founded in July 2001 for the purpose of marketing Columbia and the Riverbanks Region of South Carolina in anticipation of providing an avenue for generating an economic impact to the region.