Charleston tries to make guests feel welcome. Its tour guides are screened. Its homes and gardens are often open to the public. Crews clean up after carriage horses. And you can find a city map at most stores and restaurants.
People who live or work in the city are happy to give directions to the Battery, make recommendations for restaurants and point people to the closest public bathroom.
If the city could do something about the humidity, it would probably do that, too.
But now, it seems, some visitors feel unwanted because they are expected to pay for parking at the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) surface lot if they park there more than a half hour.
Is it irritating to pay for parking? Sure — anywhere. Especially if you’re from a small town or a suburb where you’re accustomed to parking that is abundant and free.
But is it unreasonable to expect a city that draws tourists from all over the world to ante up to park? No.
One couple interviewed by The Post and Courier’s Prentiss Findlay called the parking charges “ridiculous ... I’m tempted to take the car back to the hotel.”
Charleston is a great place to walk. Many hotels are within blocks of attractions, shopping, dining and harbor views.
Walk for a few blocks, and you’re likely to find something else of interest.
There are cabs and pedicabs. And for those who want to avoid paying for transportation, there are free DASH trolley buses downtown.
The reason the CVB has a parking lot outside its doors is so that people can pop in, get information and get refreshed before they start touring. It can be done in 30 minutes or an hour. While touring, they are wise to leave their cars at their hotels or in a parking garage with lower rates. There’s one right there near the CVB.
So let’s all remember to make tourists feel welcome. Let’s remember that they’re helping the local economy.
But let’s not feel bad that parking isn’t free.