Dreamliner customers warmly welcomed by hospitality industry
Tourism officials say Air India and other customers who come to pick up their locally made Boeing 787 Dreamliners will have a financial impact on the lodging and restaurant industries. They just don’t know how much.
“If they come from another country, international visitors by their nature stay longer than domestic visitors,” said Duane Parrish, executive director of the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism.
Parrish said it depends on the number of planes being delivered, but he understands that Air India, which bought the first South Carolina-made Dreamliner and plans to fly off with it Monday, has a large contingent, including pilots, airline officials and airport maintenance personnel.
Hotels in North Charleston will see the highest payoff, but the dollars will trickle downtown and possibly elsewhere as out-of-town visitors explore areas of Charleston they have never seen, Parrish said.
Local tourism officials won’t know the total impact of plane deliveries on the local visitor-industry market until after several Dreamliners have been picked up and the effects studied by the College of Charleston’s Office of Tourism Analysis, but they expect a ripple effect.
“As one of the world’s premier companies and our area’s largest private employer, Boeing generates significant business travel,” said Helen Hill, executive director of the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“From aeronautical engineering conferences and manufacturing supplier trade shows to the hospitality events planned every time a client takes delivery of a new plane, the impact is wide-reaching and bolsters many aspects of Charleston’s tourism economy,” she said.
Tourism officials also expect to work hand in hand with Boeing to make sure plane buyers get a warm reception.
“We obviously want to sell the Lowcountry,” Hill said.
“We are going to put them in places that are uniquely Charleston,” she said. “It might be a plantation or a restaurant that specializes in our fantastic cuisine. There could be tours. We will tailor it to the individual needs of the customer.”
Boeing plane buyers also might receive a basket filled with Charleston products, such as Frogmore stew seasonings from the Charleston Spice Co., plantation peach tea from the Charleston Tea Plantation, Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka or benne wafers from Food for the Southern Soul, among a slew of other items.
“We are incredibly fortunate to have so many talented and passionate entrepreneurs who call Charleston home,” Hill said.
Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.