This summer, the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau wants dozens of tourists to "Rediscover the Family Vacation" on the house.
Bouncing off its highly successful wedding giveaway last year, the CVB plans to give 24 people a week filled with prepaid activities and dining at more than 30 restaurants, tours and attractions.
Through July 9, families can apply by submitting a three-minute video pitch. But the customized Web site, CharlestonVacationGiveaway.com, warns: "No sob stories, please." The point, according to CVB executive director Helen Hill, is to market Charleston as an "ideal family vacation destination."
The vacation contest tries to match families with their interests through five themed packages. Each includes roundtrip flights onboard AirTran Airways.
The first 25 families to enter also get a $50 Visa gift card. Several family experts will select finalists, and the public can vote on one of the families online beginning July 10. Winners should receive word around July 16 and must take their vacations by Aug. 31.
A bill introduced in the state House last week would transfer appeals of Tourism Expenditure Review Committee decisions from the state's Administrative Law Court to a county legislative delegation.
TERC reviews how municipalities spend the 2 percent accommodations tax funds, designed to go toward building the local tourism industry. If — and this rarely happens — the committee determines the municipality improperly used the money, the allegedly misspent cash could be deducted from the next year's collection.
But the municipality can appeal that decision to an administrative law judge, unless the new bill becomes law and moves those appeals to the county's delegation.
The bill now rests with the House Judiciary Committee. Rep. Phil Owens, R-Easley, could not be reached for comment.