Look for cruise answers
Perhaps you have heard those who want to regulate the cruise industry in Charleston dismissed as a small group picking at nits.
Now hear this: That contingent, actually not small at all, is in the good company of residents, preservationists, environmentalists and tourism managers in historic ports around the world.
And from Wednesday through Friday, some of the world’s most distinguished experts will be in Charleston looking for policy solutions to the challenge of accommodating cruise tourism without harming places like Charleston.
They are coming from as far away as Italy, Chile, Mexico, Norway, Costa Rica, Alaska and Canada to take part in an international symposium on cruise ships in historic ports, sponsored by the World Monuments Fund, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Preservation Society of Charleston, which is serving as host.
It is an opportunity for rational and informed discussion of topics that, locally, have often been misrepresented or simply ignored.
We would hope that the endorsement of the venerable National Trust for Historic Preservation and the World Monuments Fund, in partnership with the Preservation Society, will validate the conference as worthy of attention.
It should persuade the City of Charleston and the S.C. State Ports Authority to study their findings and earnestly look for ways they can avoid cruise-related problems that could have devastating human, economic and environmental results in Charleston.
Those include problems related to traffic, pollution and the physical scale of our historic city.
The keynote speaker will be travel industry consultant Craig Milan, who was previously the senior vice president of land operations for Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd.
Other speakers include architect Paolo Motta of Venice, Italy, where cruise ships dwarf the historic city and add to its erosion problems; Sam Jones, mayor of Mobile, Ala., which built a cruise terminal at great expense, only to have the cruise line opt to take its business elsewhere; Gustavo Araoz, president of the International Council of Monuments; and Martha Honey, director of the Center for Responsible Travel.
Evan Thompson, executive director of the Preservation Society of Charleston, tells us that the impressive list of speakers and panelists underscores the serious nature of the issue, and also the affection and concern that international authorities have for Charleston.
Indeed, the National Trust put Charleston on “watch status” in 2011 and the World Monuments Fund included the city on the 2012 World Monuments Watch.
It is baffling that knowledgeable people from around the world recognize that the cruise industry, without enforceable regulations, could damage Charleston, while apologists here deny the possibility.
People can register for the conference at the Preservation Society.
The symposium sessions will be published and made available electronically as a source of information about and a guide to handling cruise ship tourism in historic ports.
The aim of the symposium is to advocate for “sustainable strategies for cruise development and management” enabling historic port communities to “encourage tourism while also preserving quality of life and quality of place.”
Failing to pay heed to the conference’s findings would say a lot about those who run the city of Charleston and the port — and it would not be pretty.