Still making history

Why South Carolina boasts the world's top tourist destination

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Nothing seems to solidify a city’s future quite like a vast past. Tourists love to stroll through time in a well-preserved historic district.

Charleston, S.C., has more than its share of that old-time, old South ambience, from the Revolutionary to Civil War eras and beyond. But it must be said that the amazing allure of Charleston goes far deeper than even its rich history. There are other places on Earth, after all, whose historic sites stretch back hundreds of years further.

There’s so much more about Charleston that inspired the readers of Conde Nast Traveler magazine to recently name the city the top tourist destination in the world.

We couldn’t be happier for our friends in Charleston, little more than a couple hours away from here. But neither are we much surprised. Said the New York Times a few years ago in a glowing review of Charleston, “pastel-colored row houses, horse-drawn carriages, wind-blown forts and live oaks draped with Spanish moss have an appeal to all ages.”

Charleston is comfortable. Easy. Warm. Friendly. Walkable. Scenic. Inspiring. Fun. And, while historic, it still manages to be edgy and vibrant. Its springtime Spoleto Festival USA, for example, is one of the most beloved performing arts festivals in the nation.

Charleston’s shops and restaurants are also worthy of the top tourist spot, as are the trees that seem to pose for you, the Spanish moss they wear, the climate, the beaches and more. Many tourist destinations around the world are known for one or more of these things, but few boast them all.

Still, at bottom, what good are even the best attractions on Earth without the people to go with them? More than the nation’s or world’s top destination, Charleston is the gateway to timeless Southern charm. The people of Charleston are all our ambassadors.

Even in the best tourist location, it’s the people who make the difference.

And they make a difference to the entire region. Gov. Nikki Haley Wednesday celebrated the health of the state’s $15 billion tourism industry, noting that lodging occupancy is up 3 percent over the past year and that revenues per available room are up about 8 percent.

Not quite historic yet – the industry is still making its way back to pre-recession records. But no one doubts it will get there.

South Carolina is used to making history by now.

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Riverman1
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Riverman1 10/20/12 - 06:07 am
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Hey Shrimp...You and I need

Hey Shrimp...You and I need to do a high five. Our hometown, Charleston, made a decision to preserve its historic buildings and it's been paying off for decades. The great writer, Pat Conroy, catches Charleston in all its intrigue and beauty for you outsiders...and Charlestonians.

Retired Army
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Retired Army 10/20/12 - 12:43 am
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See it quick if you haven't.

See it quick if you haven't. It's about 40 years overdue for another devastating earthquake.

Definitley invest in at least one if not two of the horse carriage tours. The guides are well versed in local lore and can and do give up some of the dirt(gossip)of times past. Great fun and interesting.

soapy_725
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soapy_725 10/20/12 - 06:11 am
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Great town !!!
Unpublished

Great town !!! Has character. Is not filled with characters.

omnomnom
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omnomnom 10/20/12 - 06:15 am
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Augusta's had poor

Augusta's had poor stewardship of its historical buildings. Slap a "this building has been saved" sign up and forget about it.... 6-12 months later the Martha Lester School now has a giant hole in the roof. Combined with very poor zoning and no coherent sense of aesthetics and beyond select areas, Augusta is a suburban nightmare.

Ok. Done ranting/whining. Yay Charleston! I love that city. Churches and alcohol serving establishments get along rather well there.

Charleston's also got Bill Murray. BILL FREAKIN' MURRAY!

I have to stifle my giggles everytime I see Augusta's dancing with the 'stars' lineup.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 10/20/12 - 06:21 am
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Funny

"I have to stifle my giggles everytime I see Augusta's dancing with the 'stars' lineup."

Now that's funny.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 10/20/12 - 07:34 am
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Yep

Augusta could learn alot from Charleston.....but will they listen.....naaah...

This says it....
Charleston is the gateway to timeless Southern charm. The people of Charleston are all our ambassadors.

Even in the best tourist location, it’s the people who make the difference.

omnomnom
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omnomnom 10/20/12 - 08:44 am
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I'm struggling to type this,

I'm struggling to type this, but Azziz *could* be the best thing that happened to Augusta in terms of culture. He pretty much reiterated what Marion Williams got tore apart for saying that Augusta's nightlife was pretty much limited to the Huddle House on 13th Street.

The addition of a medical complex to Reynolds Street would mean guaranteed bodies downtown to shop and drive up demand for housing dowtown and in adjacent neighborhoods.

A more diverse college body means more cultural influences and will bring a more cosmopolitan feel to our city (like Charleston).

And of course, efforts like the Westobou Festival will help attain a Charleston-like atmosphere.

Austin Rhodes
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Austin Rhodes 10/20/12 - 08:50 am
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How in the world...

...is a medium size city with no beach...no mountains...no casinos...no large amusement parks...supposed to compete for tourist dollars with ANYONE?

...and I am very proud of my 3rd place finish in Augusta's DWTS. Even got a perfect 10 from Maestro Z !

Austin Rhodes
2855
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Austin Rhodes 10/20/12 - 08:51 am
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1000 students in downtown dorms...

...would make a big difference in Augusta...

omnomnom
3964
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omnomnom 10/20/12 - 09:17 am
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"how in the world...is a

"how in the world...is a medium size city with no beach...no mountains...no casinos...no large amusement parks...supposed to compete for tourist dollars with ANYONE?"

Horse tourism in Aiken. Boating/fishing tourism on the Savannah / Clarks Hill. Medical tourism at any of the fine institutions in our area.
Hunting/ outdoors tourism at our beautifully maintained Wildlife preservation areas.

Other cities capitalize on industry to bring in tourism. Granted, going to International Paper may not be as riviting as say touring the Anheiser-Busch plant in Jacksonville, FL, but there are intersting factories like the Boral Bricks / Colonial Bakery / Starbucks (when it gets up and running), that could be considered.

If the Savannah Riverkeeper is successful in raising money to buy the riverfront land near Marion Homes, then an artificial beach could help bring occasional visitors more often.

We can capitalize on existing assets and resources in our community to draw in visitors.... or we can "build it and hope to the almighty that they will come" before state budget cuts cause our dreams to dematerialize.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 10/20/12 - 09:38 am
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Until about 1980, as Shrimp

Until about 1980, as Shrimp will verify, Charleston downtown looked about like Broad St. There were very few restaurants and vacant buildings abounded. There were two ancient hotels in town. The Francis Marion and the Ft. Sumter. It was a concentrated effort under Mayor Joe Riley that got it on the map.

Aiken also does amazingly well with tourism. I wouldn't give up on Augusta. There's a lot to work with. Golf, horses, history, riverfront and nearby lake. Expanding ASU and MCG over the downtown area is a great start. The Patch with a hotel would have been a great start, too. Too bad it didn't work out.

Austin Rhodes
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Austin Rhodes 10/20/12 - 09:41 am
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When you a have baseline draw, like a BEACH...

...you can do all kind of cool things. But please give an example of a land locked medium size city that attracts tourists in large numbers.

Medical tourism? LOL

omnomnom
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omnomnom 10/20/12 - 09:59 am
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You may think its funny, but

You may think its funny, but the spider vein and lard-augmentation billboards around the CSRA and U.S.A. speak otherwise.

Heh. Maybe coupons for outpatient surgeries could be given out at the Georgia Welcome Center.

Just throwing ideas out there.

Austin Rhodes
2855
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Austin Rhodes 10/20/12 - 10:09 am
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So...you want people to come for plastic surgery?

Ah. Gonna be hard to compete with Palm Springs, Miami, and the like...but hey...God bless 'em !

omnomnom
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omnomnom 10/20/12 - 10:20 am
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Ok. Well. Then... Howsabout

Ok. Well. Then... Howsabout we get someone to dress up like bigfoot? Low up front cost that could result in a Discovery Channel featurette on our fair town.

And lets construct a 50' tall fiberglass thing (i'm thinking, maybe a catfish) so people can take their pictures in front of it. 51 weeks a year thats about all visitors get to do with the Augusta National.

Put it in the Costco shopping center so people will think theres a bass pro shop or something.

And lets charge tourists an exit fee like Honduras to pay for it all.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 10/20/12 - 10:59 am
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Charleston is not on the

Charleston is not on the beach. There are beach towns... Folly Beach and The Isle of Palms are about ten miles away. But the whole thing is there are things here that can be used to promote the city. I'm telling you I saw Charleston come from nowhere to be "the top tourist destination in the world."

Hey, I don't want to sound like Countyman, but we do have lots to offer here as laid out above. The wealthiest people in the world make the CSRA a destination for several reasons....golf, horses, the Aiken society. Of course some would rather drive the Ford Fairlane to the plastic Disney World.

Jake
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Jake 10/20/12 - 11:27 am
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Walking

One of the many appealing things about Charleston is that you can park your vehicle and walk to the many sights that are available. Traffic is sometimes a problem there but it is very do-able.
Charleston is by far my favorite city to visit in the South. Great food, sights, history and charm. You cannot buy charm, it is either there or it is not.
Augusta would do well to develop it's riverfront but unless you can convince people that it is OK to be in downtown Augusta at night without fear (real or imagined) then not much is going to improve.

paperguy2
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paperguy2 10/20/12 - 11:54 am
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Hey, NAACP

Hey, NAACP! How's the boycott working out for you?

AutumnLeaves
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AutumnLeaves 10/20/12 - 02:21 pm
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Touche!

Touche! paperguy2!

AutumnLeaves
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AutumnLeaves 10/20/12 - 02:22 pm
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Thanks, Jake.

Well said, Jake.

KSL
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KSL 10/20/12 - 03:09 pm
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Iroinically, the boycott

Iroinically, the boycott upped tourism in SC.

chascushman
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chascushman 10/20/12 - 03:22 pm
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Well said KSL & paperguy2
Unpublished

Well said KSL & paperguy2

KSL
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KSL 10/20/12 - 05:40 pm
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When the NAACP announced the

When the NAACP announced the boycott, I could not help but think the harm it would do to many of their own people who had jobs connected with the tourist industry. I am glad it was unsuccessful.

KSL
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KSL 10/20/12 - 08:14 pm
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Charleston did a marvelous

Charleston did a marvelous job of coming back from Hugo.

We had to go to Columbia for a football game Thursday night, rescheduled from Friday night because Hugo was coming. Windows in Columbia stores were already boarded up.

My other son, who was at USC, weathered the storm at a hurricane party. But the next day, he and some buddies made a road trip to Charleston. He told us that Charleston looked like a war zone not only because of the destruction, but also the sight of the National Guard stationed on corners, complete with some very serious weapons.

Quite a different scenario from the aftermath of Katrina. Male Republican governor trumps female Democrat governor.

KSL
126919
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KSL 10/20/12 - 08:32 pm
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Speaking of Pat Conroy

In the early 70's, Pat spent 2 weeks in Aiken on a project for USC, the results of which was "Horses Don't Eat Moonpies."

He was entertained well during his stay, including a cocktail party given by our next door neighbors. Guests were fawning all over him. I am not the fawning type. Later on, he came up tome and said, "I have not met YOU yet!"

Somehow he and my husband wound up playing ping pong. He is a better writer. My husband is a better ping pong player.

KSL
126919
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KSL 10/20/12 - 10:21 pm
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For those who have any interest in Aiken

Or Pat Conroy, Google horses don't eat moonpies. The insight into the people of Aiken and the Valley he gleaned from his 2 weeks was amazing, that being insight 1970 wise. Aiken has continuously changed from the day it was settled.

It's hillarious. Just like the writings of my high school classmate, Lewis Grizzard, a whole lot of poetic license involved.

Not my actual class,.....a year ahead of me. Cudos to H. Richard Smith, a most excellent English teacher! He made certain we came out of his class with perfect understanding of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Lack of everyday usage and growing old, clouds the memory, as does seeing it wrong in print for 40 years.

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