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Residents on tourism: ‘We have reached the tipping point’

Posted on April 18, 2014 by in Place

Tourist carriageThe City of Charleston is on what looks like will be a rocky road to updating its tourism management program.

Residents sounded about the impact of the 5 million annual visitors to the region at a recent city-sponsored  forum. Another forum will be held June 12 at 6 p.m. at the Charleston Museum.

Here’s a selection of public comments at the April 7 forum:

‘Tourists are hearing lies’

As someone who lives on the carriage track I hear lies/falsified stories all the time. When I asked the carriage offices/tour guides about this, they said that tour guides are allowed to ‘make up stats and info’ to keep the attention of the tourists. While this may keep attention, it is concerning to think that the tourists are hearing lies. What are the regulations on carriage tour lectures? Does it differ for carriage companies?”

‘The small from carriages is awful’

Parking is a huge problem. I see horse carriages on streets they should not be on – for example, Magazine Street. There’s no way to pass if an emergency. Too many carriages on streets. The smell from carriages is awful.”

‘What would we lose by banning motor coach tourists?’

“Can you determine the economic impact of motor coach tourists? What would we lose by banning them South of Calhoun Street? If they cannot be banned, can they be discouraged from stopping or idling?”

‘Tourists prefer to park in front of our homes’

Charleston residents have spent millions to provide parking for tourists (16 parking garages) but the tourists prefer to park in front of our homes.”

‘The ordinances are not enforced!’

It is a joke to say that the Tourism Commission represents the residents. The ordinances are not enforced!” [see city response below]

We have reached the tipping point on livability’

Charleston does not have the infrastructure to accommodate more and more visitors! We have reached the tipping point between livability for Charleston’s taxpaying citizens and visitors to Charleston. Given the overbalance of panelists who profit from tourism that impacts the Old and Historic District the hardest, how can we expect that this panel will defend the historic district from increasingly overwhelming tourism, traffic, noise, congestion, carriages and horses, buses, pedicabs, bicycles, golf carts, motorcycles and tourists who disrespect our houses with trespassing, trash and worse?”

‘We are overrun by buses, horse and carriage, pedicab, cruise ship traffic and pollution’

What is the vision to keep Charleston from becoming Key West, Venice, Italy, etc. We are overrun by buses, horse and carriage, pedicab, cruise ship traffic and pollution from the above. It is already very badly affecting quality of life south of Broad.” [see city response below]

‘We need an overall ceiling on tourism’

The number of events: total number must be curbed. There should be an overall ceiling on tourism through moratoriums on numbers of hotels, cruise ships, etc.”

City’s response to some complaints

City of Charleston Planning Director Tim Keane told Local America Charleston that tourism-related violations of city ordinances will not have to wait on final adoption of the new tourism management program to be addressed. “If the [tourism management advisory] group identifies enforcement improvements soon, there is no reason they can’t be made before we finish this process.  The same goes for bus tours or any other management issue. We don’t have to wait till the whole process if finished to implement improvements.”

Keane also said the advisory committee on tourism management has 24 member, with eight representing business interests and the rest being residents of the Historic District or representing other non-business interests.

This link has the names of all advisory committee members and all the complaints and suggested tourism management improvements from the April 7 forum. The link also includes previously adopted tourism plans.

Any resident who has a complaint or question about tourism management should sent it to Amy Southerland of the city planning office at southerlanda@charleston-sc.gov.





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