Tourism is one of our region's most precious resources, with 6 million visitors annually, generating over $4 billion in annual economic impact, thousands of jobs and capital investment. We welcome the world in celebration of Charleston's history, culture, food and climate. In that sense, tourism is one of our chief exports.
Condé Nast Traveler "Reader's Choice Poll" has consistently ranked our region among the top 10 travel destinations in the U.S. for more than a decade. Wedding planners and trade periodicals rank our region in the top 3 for destination weddings worldwide. And it's easy to see why. Exquisitely preserved history, world-class golf and culinary arts, and miles of sun-soaked beaches attract millions to our region each year. Investment in new hotels, conference centers, restaurants and stores not only helps drive our greater economy, but also attract new residents each year. Many new citizens often tell of falling in love with the Lowcountry upon their very first visit to the area.
There is a balance, to be certain, that must be struck between sharing our region with the world and building a life as permanent residents. Too often, well-meaning locals may take exception to impacts on parking, nightlife, cruise ships on the waterfront or seasonal visitors along our beaches. We should support and welcome tourism. And we should always look to improve processes, find balance and protect neighborhood interests as stewards of both citizens and visitors.
Clean energy is shaping the way we think about our region...and the way the world thinks about us.