City holds first public meeting for updating tourism management plan

Emily Landeen (WCIV)

By Stacy

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- How you see tourism in Charleston depends on your view.

"You'll have folks very concerned about tourism that we have too much of it. And then you'll have those who don't think we have enough of it," Charleston's director of planning, preservation and sustainability Tim Keane said.

Keane is part of a new tourism advisory committee, appointed by Mayor Joe Riley two months ago. The committee held its first of four public forums Monday night to talk about updating Charleston's tourism management plan for the first time since 1998.

"I'm encouraged they are going to update the plan. There's no doubt about that," downtown resident Sallie Duell said.

"What we're concerned about is we've been very particular here about not letting the tourism aspect overwhelm Charleston and its neighborhoods. This is another critique of how we're doing and how we need to improve things," Keane said.

City officials knew people had opinions on the future of tourism, so they asked them to write them down on Post-it notes, and post them up on categorical boards at the meeting. The categories included the visitor center, transportation, special events and the city's image.

"Too many people, too much traffic, too many tour vehicles and too little enforcement of what's on the books," Duell said of the issues in her neighborhood near the Battery.

"I'm a tour guide myself in Charleston. I do a Civil War walking tour. There's usually a kid that says, 'I got to go bathroom.' Look, there's no place. I have people come up to me on the Battery and say, 'Where's the restroom?' There isn't one," downtown resident Jack Thomson said.

By the end of the year, the committee will make recommendations to City Council. With public input it hoped to keep all the wheels rolling down Charleston streets.

The committee will meet in two weeks to discuss the findings of tonight's meeting.

The next public forum will take place June 12 at the Charleston County School District's headquarters at 75 Calhoun Street.

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