Tourism officers patrol Peninsula, help tourists navigate the Holy City’s treasures
The beautiful sights of Charleston and the delicious food bring thousands of people to the Lowcountry, and with all those people comes a lot of questions about what to see and do.
There’s a specific department and officers dedicated to making sure our tourists are safe and happy.
The tourism enforcement officers are part of the City of Charleston’s Livability and Tourism Department.
They patrol the most popular areas of downtown on foot, in a golf cart, or on bikes.
“I get to actually help people whether it’s the carriages or the residents,” said Lee Burbage, a tourism enforcement officer.
Burbage and a handful of other officers are primarily responsible for enforcing the city’s tourism ordinance.
“These officers are looking for violations by the carriage industry,” said Dan Riccio, the director of the Livability and Tourism Department. “They are supposed to be in certain zones, supposed to pull over when traffic backs up. “The officers also monitor motor coach buses, walking tours and smaller bus tours.”
They’re also ambassadors to the city.
“They are often the first contact that visitors have in the city,” added Riccio. “They offer directions and general information about the city.”
“We help with anything we can whether it's visitors directions, answering questions, fielding calls from residents about the care of the horses to is there a parade happening today,” explained Burbage.
Burbage said sometimes the interactions get a little heated, but the officers never forget the warm welcome that comes with Southern hospitality.
“I would think with anyone in a job like ours, you're doing this because you want to help someone, southern hospitality or not,” he said.
Burbage also said he models his position after what he would like to see as a tourist himself.
“I try to answer the questions with the information that I would want whenever I’m visiting another city, like where's a good place to eat and what's something you recommend.”
The officers are young and old, and they are eager to help. They ask that the next time you see one of them, stop and let them help you find one of the peninsula’s many hidden treasures.
“They love Charleston, love interacting with people,” said Ricco. “They love the history of Charleston. They love being outdoors.”
The department recently added another tourism officer to their roster so you’ll likely see more in the future.