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      SC to highlight nature's gems to expand tourism

      By SUSANNE M. SCHAFERAssociated Press

      COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina officials want to link some of the state's most scenic areas with new visitors interested in culture, food and fitness as a way to grow the state's $15 billion tourist industry.

      Lawmakers, state officials, researchers from the University of South Carolina and supporters from Duke Energy launched their initiative Wednesday at the Statehouse in Columbia.

      University of South Carolina researcher Rich Harrill says he and colleagues in the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management are conducting a study of the state's four national scenic roads.

      The roads run from the far northwestern hills in the Upstate to the Savannah River and the Lowcountry. Harrill says they could be a magnet for economic development and new visitors to the state.

      Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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