HICKS COLUMN: Charleston is THE best, so enjoy it
So Charleston is the top tourist destination in the world.
The readers of Conde Nast Traveler voted our city not only the top tourist town in the U.S. for the second year in a row, but also the top spot in the world.
This is huge. It could mean great things for us.
Like, we might finally get our own Six Flags.
OK, maybe not. Helen Hill is non-committal on that one, even though we certainly have enough flags here.
The Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director is ecstatic over this honor. The Conde Nast folks told Hill to enjoy this, that Charleston is “having a moment.”
We are indeed. For all our disagreements, and the jokes that we endure from the rest of the country, a lot of people think this is the perfect place to vacation.
Which means this is a pretty good place to live, too.
But you already knew that.
Nothing could be finer
John Newton, a senior editor at Traveler, says Charleston and Savannah have always scored higher than other top 10 destinations on the friendliness scale — that’s Southern hospitality for you.
Which is why the CVB didn’t include a “Take that, San Francisco” in its thank-you video.
Charleston finally topped San Fran because, frankly, we’ve taken our game to the next level.
“It’s always been a beautiful and charming city,” Newton says. “Now it’s also a place people associate with great hotels and great dining.”
And of course a lot of the draw is our history. We’ve wallowed in it for years. Apparently a lot of others do, too.
“I loved the ambience, the culture, the history and the people,” one voter wrote. “I especially enjoyed learning about the African American contribution to the city.”
A few were here long enough to pick up on our little family squabbles.
“The only sad thing that has happened to Charleston,” another voter wrote, “is allowing large cruise ships to dock in the historic district which takes away from an otherwise peaceful experience.”
Who knew Dana Beach reads Traveler?
With great success
Hill believes Charleston is getting all this love because we are an authentic city.
We celebrate our Gullah culture, our Colonial history and our recent unpleasantness equally. As we should.
“We believe that we’re the real deal,” Hill says.
Be warned — with great success come more tourists. We may even see more folks moving in from off. And they can join us in arguing over whether to finish Interstate 526.
But for at least a few days, let’s put aside our differences and enjoy the honor. We did this together — the wait staffs, the docents, the concierges, the local businesses and all the residents who don’t discriminate against people from Ohio. So take a bow.
We are having a moment, Charleston, and it could lead to even greater things in an already great city.
Maybe even a Six Flags.
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @BriHicks_PandC