• Charleston and Venice: Two Cities with Too Many Tourists

    September 6, 2016

    Charleston Waterfront

    A cruise ship docked at Charleston's waterfront brings more tourists to the city.

    Let’s set the scene: millions of visitors every year, new hotels being built to accommodate even more, looming cruise ships, local businesses squeezed out of the historic district to make way for tourist-oriented ones, and residents having no option but to follow them.

    Salvatore Settis may have been describing Venice, but the description applies certainly applies to Charleston. In 2011, we included Charleston on our 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list when the threat of excessive tourism loomed. In a recent article from Post and Courier, the struggle facing Charleston of prioritizing residents and local business interests while maintaining a tourist destination was laid out. “Maintaining a useful, diverse mix of businesses throughout the city is a critical aspect of neighborhood livability and quality of life for our citizens,” Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said.

    Read the full article for more details.

  • Good news in Charleston cruise ship litigation

    January 27, 2014

    We had some good news recently in our efforts to limit cruise ship traffic in Charleston.

    As readers of this update are aware, a U.S. Federal Court ruling issued last year vindicated our claim that the Army Corps must consider the adverse effects of the cruise ship terminal on the adjacent historic district in Charleston. By insisting that the Army Corps take a broader look at nearby historic places before issuing permits, the ruling reinforced our long-standing conviction that the Corps must do a better job complying with federal preservation laws, which protect thousands of historic places across the country.

    While the Army Corps and the South Carolina Ports Authority initially sought to appeal this ruling, the National Trust and our preservation allies were pleased that the Army Corps and the Ports Authority have recently dropped their appeal and announced that they will instead start the permit process over.

    This is welcome news. As this recent editorial in the Charleston Post and Courier endorsing the decision to abandon the appeal in favor of re-starting the permit process notes, this approach will allow the Corps and the Ports Authority to “take the high road” by adopting “a process that allows the public to ask questions and have input into the SPA project.”

    While we still have a ways to go in this effort, but we’re encouraged that re-starting the permit process and giving the public the ability to make their voices heard, is a step in the right direction.

  • Join the Conversation About Charleston's New Cruise Terminal

    August 27, 2012

    As part of our ongoing work to develop a sensible policy for cruise tourism in Charleston, the National Trust is participating in the regulatory review process for the new terminal that is being constructed. There has been both hopeful and disappointing news on this front.

    The root of the issue is just how broadly the reviewing agencies at the state and federal level will consider impacts from the project. The Army Corps of Engineers is taking the most narrow view. The South Carolina Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management is considering expanding their review for their permitting process.Below is information from Charleston’s Coastal Conservation League on an opportunity to request a new hearing to consider these wider impacts. If you are in South Carolina, or care about this issue, please take a minute to add your voice to this effort.

    This is a friendly reminder that the deadline to request another hearing on the new cruise terminal is quickly approaching! A few weeks ago, the South Carolina Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management requested more information from the South Carolina State Ports Authority in order to better assess the port’s permit application for the new cruise terminal. The port has revised their permit application to include additional structural changes they want to make to the warehouse, and also to include the construction of the staging areas for passengers, luggage, and supplies.

    The South Carolina Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management must disclose and review all of the impacts associated with the new cruise terminal and the operations it will facilitate. The South Carolina Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management is also required to evaluate alternatives to constructing a new cruise terminal at Union Pier.

    Please write to the South Carolina Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management and request a public hearing regarding this revised permit application in order to assess the breadth of impacts associated with the new cruise terminal.

  • Introducing the Charleston Waterfront

    July 22, 2012

    My name is John Hildreth, and I’m the project manager for the National Trust’s important work in Charleston, South Carolina.

    Sometimes when we work on particular places or issues, we have to dive in deeply and become well versed on things that we seldom associate with historic preservation.My first project at the National Trust 25 years ago required me to learn about funerary art, burial practices, and cemetery management.Those weren’t exactly subjects I studied in school.I have referred to myself as an “accidental expert” in many things over the years.

    Now you can add cruise ship tourism to that list.

    Last year, the National Trust gave “watch list” status on our annual list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places to the Charleston Waterfront.We took this unprecedented step because of the potential for unregulated cruise ship activity to upset the economic profile and fragile balance of livability that marks Charleston as a special and remarkable city.One of our goals is to conduct an unbiased assessment of cruise ship tourism.

    Working with one of our local partners, the Historic Charleston Foundation, we recently released the results of a study on cruise ship tourism in the historic city of Charleston.The executive summary of the study, entitled The Cruise Industry in Charleston: A Clear Perspective, is enlightening.What we learned, in part, about cruise ship tourism is that:

    • The spending and economic benefit from cruise ship activity is spread across the three county metropolitan region, yet the costs and negative impacts are almost exclusively concentrated in one part of the downtown historic district.
    • The City of Charleston receives no fees or head taxes from the State Ports Authority, yet must provide services to those passengers once off the ship.The State Ports Authority collects an estimated $10 million annually from parking and fees from cruise ships.
    • The extent of positive economic impact to the economy is inflated, and even if the inflated numbers are accepted, does not justify exemption from similar regulations that apply to other tourist activities in the city.
    • There is a real potential that cruise ship tourism could begin to displace other forms of tourism in the city.

    The report makes several recommendations, including: formation of a citizens commission for oversight of the cruise ship activity; management of cruise ships similar to management of other tourism activity within the city; collection of reasonable fees by the city; and continued study of the industry’s impact on the city.

    The National Trust provided significant funding for this study that was conducted by Miley and Associates.We believe that in methodology and findings, this study can be utilized by other communities as they develop their own approaches to cruise ship tourism.And of course, we hope this study can lead to a better understanding of impacts and more informed public policy regarding cruise ship operations in Charleston.

    For me, it is an important document in my continuing education as an “accidental expert” in cruise ship tourism.

All 4 updates

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