Tourism is one of our region's most precious resources, with its 7.3 million visitors annually, $9.7 billion in annual economic impact, thousands of jobs, and robust capital investment. The tourism industry employs more than 47,000 people across the region. 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 "Readers Choice Poll" has consistently ranked our home among the top ten travel destinations in the U.S. for more than a decade. Wedding planners and trade periodicals rank us in the top three regions for destination weddings worldwide. It's easy to see why. Exquisitely preserved history, world-class recreation 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 attracts new residents. Many new citizens tell of falling in love with the Lowcountry upon their 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.