New campaign hopes to lure Charleston tourists north

New campaign hopes to lure Charleston tourists north

Its a new push to promote tourism in part of Dorchester County.

County officials want more people to visit the upper part of Dorchester and the small towns of Harleyville, Ridgeville and St. George.

They say they want to capitalize on the visitors who come to the Lowcountry to see Charleston and other coastal communities.

They think there's an untapped market for tourists looking for something different.

As he slowly cruises calm waters, Earl Johnson describes the rhythm of the Edisto River.

"Everything here is just natural," he said. "There's nothing to come down and see deer standing on the bank, or turkey."

Earl has a passion for the serene settings of upper Dorchester County.

"I grew up here. I'm 44 years old. Grew up here on the river," he said. "And you kinda just took it for granted. It was a place we went to on the weekends."

As owner of Edisto River Adventures, he's surprised at who visits his outdoor oasis in Ridgeville.

"I'm taken aback by the amount of people from out of our area that come here," he said. "And I don't think that a lot of the local people here realize how many tourists really come here."

That's why Dorchester County leaders are beginning a 40,000 dollar marketing campaign to tout tourism in smaller towns not far from busy I-26 and the slow Edisto River.

County Council Chairman Jay Byers says the plan is to promote natural settings like Givhans Ferry State Park and nearby historic landmarks.

"What we're looking for are people who are looking to go off the beaten path," he said. "Its not all just Charleston, although that's the big kid in the room. We understand that. We've got some things to offer, too and we feel like the more we raise that awareness with this campaign, we'll be able to generate some things here."

There's flowing interest in Earl Johnston's slower pace of rest and relaxation on the water and on the banks of the Edisto.

The county is spending 20,000 dollars while the South Carolina National Heritage Corridor is adding another 20 grand.

Ads can be seen in some regional publications like Palmetto Magazine. Billboards will go up later this Spring.

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