Hospitality industry expert talks how to balance tourism and Charleston charm

Hospitality expert talks balancing tourism with Charleston charm
Big events like the Cooper River Bridge Run and Family Circle Cup, happening in the same weekend, add up to massive crowds and a whole lot of money pouring into the local economy. But, when does it become too much?

"There are a lot of events going on here in Charleston," said Tripp Hays, Chairman at Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, "April is the busiest month of the year."

The past weekend was one of the busiest tourist weekend of the year and compared to this time to last year the number of visitors isn't up, according to Hays.

Hays, who also is the director of sales and marketing for The Mills House, says hotel occupancy on the peninsula remained at 98 percent again this year. However, one thing did increase.

"What we really saw in significant change was the difference in the average rate that people were paying," said Hays.

Tourists have been paying more to stay in the heart of the action, Hays says up to six percent more for the nightly hotel expense.

"They're in town, they're spending more money and helping the local economy," said Hays.

However, can too much of a good thing backfire?

''You can kill that goose that laid the golden egg and its important that we protect that," said Hays.

Hays says city leaders need to be selective and limit the number of events taking place in the Lowcountry.

"You've got to look and make sure its the right events," said Hays.

Hays says it's also important to limit the number of tour buses and carriages allowed to operate downtown, and even the amount of people that are able to stay downtown.

"By not allowing more hotels to be built and restricting the size of the hotels that can be built," said Hays.

Hays says that city leaders and the hospitality are in full agreement that the Lowcountry charm must be preserved.

"Everybody has got to work to protect the quality of life that we have here, that's what has made Charleston special and something the whole industry needs to work to preserve," said Hays.

The College of Charleston Office of Tourism recently estimated that each visitor to Charleston spends about $245 dollars, per day. Tourism and hospitality makes up 16 percent of the local economy, according to Hays.

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