Georgetown launching post-fire ad campaign

GEORGETOWN, S.C. (AP/WCIV) - Officials hope a new advertising campaign will help rejuvenate tourism after a fire along Georgetown's waterfront.

Images of the fire that ravaged historic Front Street are still in the minds of those who live and work in Georgetown. {}Even those just passing through may remember it. That's why city leaders want to change that opinion as soon as possible.

"Unfortunately because of the fire, the impression may have gotten out that downtown Georgetown was out of business.{} Which is far from the truth," said Jack Scoville, mayor of Georgetown.

He says that money from the South Carolina Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Department will give his city much needed publicity to spread the word that Georgetown is open for business. {}

"We still have many great restaurants, many fine retail stores, it's a lot of fun to come to Georgetown and shop and we want to get the word out," said Scoville.

The ads will start appearing online and on radio in February. They won't mention the Sept. 25 fire but will tell potential travelers about Georgetown's historic offerings, shopping and dining.

The ads are a result of $21,000 worth of space in cooperative advertising that the state Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department donated to city promoters shortly after the fire.

"A lot of people think we're not here anymore.{} I think they think a lot of this end of the street has maybe burned down with the rest of the fire," said Ron Rader, owner of Coffee Break Cafe, across the street from where the fire destroyed his neighbors. {}

He's hoping an advertising campaign to promote his town will attract tourists to stop, visit, and spend money.

"We enjoy having them here.{} And we hope more of them come when the advertising kicks in February and March and just -- we'll take whatever we can get," said Rader.

Scoville says the state money will be added to the city's budget for promoting tourism. That money comes from a hospitality tax.

The waterfront fire destroyed seven buildings and damaged others. State investigators say the fire was not intentionally set but say it's likely they'll never know what sparked the blaze.

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