Miley study shows need to regulate cruise ships in Charleston: an op-ed in P&C from the executive director,Historic Charleston Foundation

Miley study shows need to regulate cruise ships in Charleston, P&C, April 21, 2012, KITTY ROBINSON of Historic Charleston Foundation. 

Since its founding in 1947, Historic Charleston Foundation has played a key role in guiding the preservation and development of Charleston and its historic environs. The Foundation’s initiatives have set the pace for national preservation strategies and shaped the creation of local, regional and national policies. The basis for these successful preservation initiatives is community-based collaboration; open and transparent dialogue; and objective research, data, and analysis.

In the fall of 2011, the Foundation commissioned Miley & Associates, Inc. to prepare an objective study of the economic impacts of the cruise industry on the City of Charleston, thus providing the community with fact-based statistics on which to make informed decisions.
Miley & Associates, Inc. is a well-known economic consulting firm in South Carolina and the author of other high profile economic impact reports. Harry W. Miley, Jr., Ph.D. is the founding principal of Miley & Associates, Inc. and has extensive experience in the public and private sectors. The Foundation-commissioned report prepared by Miley is titled The Cruise Industry in Charleston: A Clear Perspective.

Miley & Associates, Inc. conducted an impartial analysis of the impacts of the cruise industry on the City of Charleston. The analysis focuses on national trends in the cruise industry and on the macro-economic perspective of the impacts the cruise industry has on the Charleston area. The analysis provides an assessment of both the positive and negative impacts of the industry; including its short-term and long-term impacts on Charleston’s economy; and the quality-of-life for local residents and businesses as it relates to the historical, architectural and cultural character of the city.
The scope of the Miley report:
1) places the cruise industry in perspective by evaluating demographic and economic
trends of the City of Charleston as well as other port cities with cruise ship
operations,
2) reviews several existing economic impact studies of the cruise industry,
3) determines opportunity costs, local business benefits, and displacement of non-cruise
visitors, and
4) studies the quality-of-life impacts and provides recommendations for mitigation.

The recommendations in the report strive to successfully integrate the cruise industry in Charleston. Considering all recommendations within the objective analysis, the Foundation will remain an advocate for quality-of-life balance with the cruise industry by focusing on the following next steps:

1) Continue to advocate for the management and control of the cruise industry, in a manner similar to all other attractions and activities within the city. This includes enforceable regulations that seek to manage the cruise industry in a way that balances tourism, commerce and livability.
2) Suggest that the State Ports Authority negotiate with the cruise industry to impose a reasonable passenger fee to create an “Infrastructure Fund” which could offset the cost of improvements that will be required for the redevelopment of the southern portion of Union Pier and the special initiatives presented in the Union Pier Concept Plan. Such improvements could benefit the cruise industry as well as other sectors of the local economy.
3) The Foundation was present at the hearing of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management on April 18, 2012, to discuss the scope of environmental review that is being triggered by the new cruise terminal operation at Union Pier.

In addition to presenting a statement at the hearing (available at www.historiccharleston.org/cruiseships), the Foundation requested that the State Ports Authority provide any research regarding reasonable alternatives for the site of the new terminal and justify that the proposed location is appropriate. The Foundation also requested data which analyzes the cumulative impacts of the proposed new cruise terminal use on the surrounding historic districts and neighborhoods.

The Miley report confirms the complexity of the cruise industry, its supply chain network, and the importance for further review and community understanding. Funding for this objective report was made possible in part through a contribution by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The Foundation’s vital work will continue according to its mission to protect and preserve the integrity of the architectural, historical, and cultural character of Charleston. To read the full report, The Cruise Industry in Charleston: A Clear Perspective; the extensive legal analysis funded by Historic Charleston Foundation; and the ordinance proposed by the Foundation; visit www.historiccharleston.org/cruiseships.