CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – Click to view the footage from Live5 News
Mayor Joe Riley and other Charleston City officials heard from the public Thursday as the City tackles revising its tourism management plan for the first time in 16 years.
The tourism management plan was established in 1978 and last updated in 1998. City officials say they are working towards presenting a revision by the end of the year. Many say it’s long overdue.
“I feel more and more like we’re a revolving door for tourists,” says downtown resident Carrie Agnew.
Traffic on the peninsula, cruise ships and enforcement of existing tourism ordinances were among the key concerns at Thursday’s public forum.
Mayor Joe Riley says ordinances need to be updated to reflect the city and preserve quality of life.
“The first responsibility of a government and the first goal of a city have to be a good place for people to live first…a good place for people to work and then a good place for people to visit.”
Some residents say they appreciate that Charleston is a top vacation destination, but they fear livability has taken a back seat to tourism. Agnew, who has lived downtown for several years, says she plans around the cruise schedule.
“I know when a cruise ship is going to be here so that I can avoid certain areas. I know which streets are going to be hard to get down.”
Agnew, along with others, says they left feeling optimistic that change will come sooner than later.
“There needs to be a lot of involvement with people who are actually benefiting from tourism and are able and capable of handling most of the issues being brought up,” says business owner Walter Thorn.
City officials say the next step is for five task forces to talk and work through the suggestions they received from residents about two months ago.