During a stop on Tuesday at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism and Travel in Greenville, Gov. Nikki Haley talked about South Carolina’s largest industry — tourism — as well as the renewed interest in legalizing gambling.
In her keynote address to the group, Haley brought up the much-discussed phone greeting, “It’s a great day in the South Carolina," she made mandatory for state employees.
Haley said she decided to institute the phrase because of the effect it would have on state employees rather than state visitors.
“South Carolina was a state of negativity and changing the culture has been a big part of my job," Haley said. "You can either focus on the positive or focus on the negative. I choose to focus on the positive."
In a session with the media after her speech, Haley said it’s important to sustain the momentum the state has in the tourism sector by making sure all parts of the state are marketed to potential visitors.
“It’s not just the Upstate and our beaches, we’ve got bed and breakfasts all over the rural parts of the state,” she said. “There is whitewater rafting, golf courses and wonderful state parks. We’re a great state as a whole and we do not need to be regional anymore.”
Haley added that she believes South Carolina has benefited from being wedged between a group of states (North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee) whose residents like to take weekend getaways during slow economic times, instead of longer vacations.
The governor also addressed a proposed casino to be built by United Keetowa Band of Cherokee Indians in Jasper County near Hardeeville. She did not dismiss the possibility of a casino, but preferred other strategies to help build the economy.
“I don’t think we should settle and take the first thing that comes along. We have industries coming to our state," Haley said. "We can get good, productive manufacturing jobs here. Gambling is not a priority right now.”
After spending much of the morning with hospitality representatives, Haley visited an elementary school in Greenville before leaving for Spartanburg to hold her "open door" meetings.