The first in a series of public meetings regarding tourism management in Charleston was held on April 7. The purpose of this meeting was to collect as many ideas as possible from citizens. The format of the meeting was specifically designed to do this with a combination of presentations, panel members answering questions, and breakout sessions. As a result we collected over 200 specific questions, ideas and solutions to consider. This was a highly effective and successful meeting because many people got to participate in a meaningful way.

Citizens will have many more chances to speak, recommend and express everything they want about tourism management in Charleston. Mayor Riley has appointed a citizen advisory committee chaired by Katharine Robinson from the Historic Charleston Foundation to guide the process. Many of the committee's members are historic district residents. Anyone is welcome to attend any of their meetings and there will be time at each for general public comment.

The next working meeting of the advisory committee is Tuesday, April 29, at 8 a.m. at the Historic Charleston Foundation offices. We will be forming focus groups to concentrate on top issues including special events, tourism enforcement and others. Citizens will be welcome at these meetings also.

Then we will have more big public meetings, including our next one on June 12 at 6 p.m. in the auditorium at the Charleston Museum. Unlike the first meeting, this second one will occur after we have reached a place in the process where it is helpful to include open discussion, debate and feedback.

The point of this is not only to have a process for people to speak. The point is to update our tourism management practices to achieve the vision of this advisory committee, which is to "develop objectives and recommendations within the next nine months that address the goal of maintaining the critical and delicate balance between Charleston's residential quality of life and the tourism economy while preserving Charleston's authenticity and sense of place, especially its architectural and cultural heritage."

This is a challenge and a practice Charleston has led nationally by involving all citizens in meaningful, satisfying ways. That will again be the case this year.

TIM KEANE

Director of Planning, Preservation

and Sustainability

City of Charleston

Calhoun Street

Charleston