Less than a month before the updated Tourism Management Plan gets its first official airing, the S.C. State Ports Authority is changing the tourism equation in Charleston.
The SPA is allowing Carnival Cruise Lines to increase its presence in Charleston. The cruise ship Sunshine will start five cruises here in 2016.
Those are in addition to cruises of the Fantasy, which is home ported in Charleston.
Crowding and traffic on the peninsula are two primary considerations of the Tourism Management Plan update. Too bad port officials didn’t wait for the report before considering the Sunshine deal.
The tourism report will be heard at a special Charleston Planning Commission meeting on April 6, and then likely be sent to City Council for consideration on May 12.
Some recommendations that might be included involve a remote parking facility, shore power and a passenger head tax by the city. All could have an impact on Carnival’s contracts with the SPA.
Already the SPA has said no cruise ships with more than 3,500 passengers will come to Charleston. The Fantasy’s capacity is 2,056. The Sunshine’s is about 3,002.
What might come next? The passenger terminal that the SPA wants to build would accommodate even larger ships.
The process of updating the city’s Tourism Management Plan was encouraging in the way people of diverse interests cooperated to produce a mutually acceptable set of recommendations that would benefit the city.
The SPA could have displayed that same sense of cooperation by considering the updated plan before inking deals.