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Debate continues over whether to ferry cruise passengers to Mt. Pleasant

MT. PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) -

The controversy over whether to ferry cruise passengers East of the Cooper continued Monday.

One Mt. Pleasant leader said it’s a chance to boost local business while other town leaders aren’t yet on board.

Mt. Pleasant Councilman Gary Santos, who works in the cruise industry, said Monday he has approval from the Coast Guard as well as Patriots Point to dock in the harbor and ferry passengers to the Yorktown for the day.

Santos said the first cruise, a small luxury ship, could be arriving as early as May.

"Only 140 of them right now are going to come ashore,” Santos said. “They'll eat lunch and tour the Yorktown and visit some areas and then leave."

Because Patriots Point is a state agency, Santos doesn’t need town permission to bring passengers to that area in Mt. Pleasant. However, he would need town approval before ferrying future passengers to town-owned properties, such as Mt. Pleasant’s pier.

At Monday’s meeting of the Judicial and Legal Committee, Mayor Linda Page said she wasn’t convinced to approve the project until she’s given further information.  

"Could I think this is best for the community, absolutely,” the mayor said. “But, I don't have the data."

While a port of call analysis has been completed, Mayor Page said logistical information is missing.

Others agreed more details are necessary to move forward.

"There's not been a basic plan for location, exact size of ships, how things are booked for residents of Mt. Pleasant and everyone who goes to Mt. Pleasant for how cruise passengers are shuttled around,” Katie Zimmerman with the Coastal Conservation League said.

Others, such as Councilman Elton Carrier, said docking more ships in the harbor will add to the city of Charleston's tourist numbers.

Santos emphasized Mt. Pleasant wouldn’t be a place for debarkation or embarkation but rather, a port-of-call for day-trippers, plus an additional source of revenue for small area businesses.

The councilman is expected to further review details and present additional information to the committee before presenting to full council for a vote this spring.

"When you're ranked number 1 in the world in tourism, they're coming. We can pile them in buses or cars or we can bring them in by ships,” Santos said. "Let them come in and visit by ship and go out by ship. To me it's the best way to do it, you get a lot more revenue for it without the impact to the community."

Copyright 2017 WCSC. All rights reserved.

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