Charleston looking to update Tourism Management Plan

By Ashley Barker
Published April 8, 2014

In 2012, tourists spent an average of $205 per day in Charleston, which accounted for 16% of the city’s economy, according to city of Charleston planning director Tim Keane.

He spoke during a tourism management forum Monday night in downtown Charleston that was held to gather citizen input on the future of tourism in the Holy City.

Advisory committee members for Tourism Management Plan

  • Liz Alston
  • Carl Borick
  • Alphonso Brown
  • Betsy Cahill
  • Anne Bowen Dabney
  • Angela Black Drake
  • Dick Elliott
  • Carol Etheridge
  • Steve Gates
  • William “Lee” Gilliard
  • Randall Goldman
  • Jonathan Green
  • Helen Hill
  • Jane Jilich
  • Steve Litvin
  • Louise Maybank
  • Rick Mosteller
  • Vangie Rainsford
  • Charles Rhoden
  • Mayor Joe Riley
  • Katherine Robinson (chairwoman)
  • Nancye Starnes
  • Dennis Stiles
  • Keith Waring

Keane showed community members an advertisement for Savannah in a Georgia magazine. It included a picture of folks sitting in a bar that drives around the city. The ad said “You call it a crazy night out. We call it Tuesday.”

“This is what we don’t want to have happen here in Charleston,” Keane said. “Charleston decided a long time ago that this is not anybody’s playground. It is not the party town. It is a place where people live and work, period.”

He said there has been tremendous effort since the original Tourism Management Plan was created in 1978 to protect the city as a place to live and work first.

“If people want to come to Charleston, that’s fine, and we welcome them. But they’re coming to our home,” Keane said.

Mayor Joe Riley recently appointed an advisory committee of residents, neighborhood association representatives, preservationists and representatives of the business, education and tourism communities to modernize the city’s Tourism Management Plan with the help of the Department of Planning, Preservation & Sustainability. The plan was most recently updated in 1998.

During the next nine months, the committee will develop recommendations to address the “critical and delicate balance between Charleston’s residential quality of life and the tourism economy while preserving Charleston’s authenticity and sense of place, especially its architectural and cultural heritage,” according to Keane.

Concerns that could be worked out in the new plan include the addition of restrooms to the White Point Garden area near the Battery.

Vanessa Turner Maybank, director of tourism services, said the mayor commissioned a restroom task force a few years ago.

“There were conversations with the Fort Sumter House about the city working with them to put restrooms there. There also was research done to look at the restrooms that were at the bandstand at White Point Garden,” Maybank said. “When they looked at the sewer systems of the older restrooms, they would have had to really build above grade, and it would have been something that would not have been conducive to that area.”

Keane said the city agrees that restrooms are needed in that area.

“There’s no other issue other than where are we going to put them? It sounds easy, but it’s tricky,” Keane said.

The possibility of creating resident-only parking areas, moving the cruise ship terminal and adding special event regulations were also topics brought up by citizens.

Community members were asked to write questions and concerns on index cards, which will be discussed by committee members in a meeting later this month. On June 12, another public forum will be held to talk about the group’s ideas.

Reach Ashley Barker at 843-849-3144 or @AshleyNBarker.

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