Helen Turner Hill ’85


Charleston’s goodwill ambassador

Two weeks after Helen Turner Hill became executive director of the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), Hurricane Hugo hit north of Charleston. How could anyone imagine a bigger challenge to a new position?

Twenty-four years later, Hill has proven she was more than up for the challenge. Under her leadership, Charleston is world renowned with back-to-back No. 1 rankings from readers of Condé Nast Traveler magazine as the nation’s best tourist destination and, last year, best-in-the-world.

The Charleston native earned her degree in parks, recreation and tourism management and returned home to put her education to work. She was concierge at Wild Dunes Resort before moving to the Charleston CVB to sell ads for the visitors’ guide and later was sales manager for meetings and conventions. Her hard work and natural fit to developing tourism moved her into the executive director position.

When Hill came to Clemson, she wanted to join her father, the late Robert M. Turner ’61, working for his mortgage company.

“In my second semester at Clemson, I knew accounting wasn’t my thing, and I thought about doing something else,” she said. “I asked myself, ‘What else could I major in and transfer all of my credits?’ I looked around, and tourism was it.”

Hill says that working with the College of Charleston’s Office of Tourism Analysis guides their purchase of advertising and marketing programs to help contribute to economic development. Statistics have shown that 4.83 million visitors brought in $3.58 billion to the Charleston-area economy in 2012. That’s about one-fourth of all tourism dollars in South Carolina.

“It’s the history that makes us special,” Hill said. “There is not another place like this in the United States of America. This is not Anywhere, USA.

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