Southwest Airlines touches down in South Carolina this weekend, with its flights to Charleston and Greenville-Spartanburg expected to attract hundreds of thousands more visitors to the state and save travelers tens of millions on airfare.
Tourism officials on both sides of South Carolina say the new connections, and the expected drop in competitors' fares that generally follow Southwest's arrival, can only help the state's $18 billion tourism industry.
"We're very excited about it," said Diane Wilson, a spokeswoman for the Greenville Convention and Visitors Bureau, who said the less expensive Southwest flights will help the convention business and lure weekend visitors.
"With our convention center here, one of the challenges has been the airline package," she said. "Southwest flying in is definitely alleviating that concern."
Perrin Lawson, deputy director of the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, agreed.