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Foundation Matters

Progress Check on the 2015 Tourism Management Plan Update

Posted: June 4, 2018

The 2015 Tourism Management Plan (TMP) Update includes 72 recommendations to improve tourism management in Charleston with a timeline calling for the majority of the recommendations to be implemented by the end of 2018. HCF was a key contributor to the development of the update, with HCF’s former President and CEO Kitty Robinson serving as Chair of the TMP Committee. The Foundation remains committed to advocating for implementation of the committee’s important recommendations.

As part of  our review of the plan’s progress, we recently met with City staff, including the directors of Planning, Livability and Transportation, and received a full reporting from the relevant city departments. Overall, city staff reported success in implementing the plan update’s recommendations, with substantial work in progress on several key recommendations.

One of the plan’s components was a recommendation to assess the number of Tourism Enforcement Officers (TEOs) and increase them as appropriate. The city now has 5 full-time TEOs who are responsible for checking things like tour guide credentials, monitoring carriage routes and tour buses and assisting tourists in the city. Recommendations that have been implemented include:

HCF’s primary concerns going forward are implementing the TMP’s recommendations relating to hotel proliferation and transportation, two very difficult issues that have naturally taken longer to address. On hotel proliferation, Mayor Tecklenburg’s administration has attempted to both follow through on his campaign promise of a hotel moratorium and to pass common-sense amendments to the city’s accommodations ordinances. While both of these efforts failed, the city cannot simply cease efforts to address hotel proliferation, and the Foundation continues to advocate for limits to the number of hotel rooms on the peninsula. We also believe that the city should continue to explore the creation of a head tax for cruise passengers which could be used for specific infrastructure and enforcement needs on the Peninsula.

Concerning mobility and transportation, newly appointed Director of Transportation Keith Benjamin has initiated the city’s first comprehensive parking plan in 20 years. The study, led by Kimley-Horn consultants, will examine current and future parking trends for residents, businesses, employees and visitors and develop parking and mobility management recommendations as appropriate. To participate in the survey, please click here. The study, which focuses on the peninsula, is expected to be completed and adopted by City Council in January of 2019. The city also hopes to learn more about the feasibility of additional park-and-ride sites through a study that is being led by the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Government.

Another major recommendation of the TMP was to conduct an annual review of tourism-related activities so that the Advisory Committee and the general public could remain engaged, hear about implementation progress and provide feedback. This has not yet happened, and Historic Charleston has offered to host this annual review. Our hope is to make this happen in the fall, so stay tuned!

5 responses to “Progress Check on the 2015 Tourism Management Plan Update”

  1. Laura Gates says:

    Walking tours need to be regulated as to the number on any given day and they need to be spaced out. These have not been regulated other than regarding the number in a group. They have proliferated and there are too many. In addition, I believe that 20 persons is too large a group. They block the sidewalks and force residents going about their business to detour to the street. Sometimes the guides make a loud show of saying: “lets get over to let this person by.” So what?? There is still a large group of people that I have to walk through on the way to the post office – weaving in and out of people. In addition, the tour guides should be given specific places to stop that are not directly in front of residents’ front doors. They should stop in front of public buildings and at walls, etc. and think about the people who live here. I also believe that they should be directed to stay on the major streets and out of the small alleyways. This is a big and growing problem.

  2. Elizabeth Sullivan says:

    Venice did test May 1 and in July will continue to use “turnstyle” in central area. Only residents, hotel guests and employees can pass into central area.
    Charleston should try this and charge cruise ships for pass to enter historic area. Dubrovnik considering same since UNESCO is pressuring town to limit visitors during peak times.

  3. Anne Barnes says:

    Bravo! I could not agree more with Laura Gates. Twenty is too large a group for our streets and sidewalks. Ten is closer to the correct number. The guides can half the number and double their fee. The experience for the client would merit the increase.
    This IS a big and growing problem.
    Anne Barnes
    Anne Barnes Historic Charleston Tours

  4. We have been to Charleston many times and it is one of our favorite destinations in the USA. Parking has always been a problem with us sometimes driving around for many minutes hoping for a space. We also love all of the restaurants!

  5. Josh & Sarah Carlon says:

    My family and I have been visiting Charleston each summer for the past 20 years, and we’ve witnessed the overwhelming growth in the city and surrounding areas. While Charleston feels like a second home to us, we know that we are tourists, and we try to be mindful of that. We are highly in favor of your efforts to limit the impacts of tourism – particularly from Calhoun Street on down. We always try to be respectful by parking around the perimeter and walking into town, to avoid contributing to the traffic, but this is not always easy to do with smaller children and older family members with bad knees. I think the park and ride concept has a lot of merit. One thing to consider is building new parking areas north of Calhoun, increasing security and lighting in those areas, and allowing small electric shuttles or golf carts to shuttle visitors into the lower peninsula – particularly in the evenings. This would reduce car congestion around the restaurants and parking garages. We applaud and support your efforts, as we want to make sure that the charming, historic treasure that Charleston is continues to remain so for its residents, for us (respectful) tourists, and for future generations. Thank You!

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