Georgetown needs tourists to return following fire - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Georgetown needs tourists to return following fire

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For the last few years, Georgetown has worked to revitalize its historic downtown area, with Front Street as the cornerstone. Annually, thousands make a trek across the Waccamaw River to one of the oldest cities in the state -- Georgetown.

After a fire destroyed several centuries-old buildings on Front Street, officials are hoping to keep Georgetown as a tourist destination.

"It's been a rough couple of days. We lost some great businesses, some great retail shops and great restaurants," Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce president Brian Tucker said.

"We estimate that we lost 9 or 10 businesses, 130-135 employees and 13 people have been displaced from their homes," Tucker said.

Locals like Douglas Rohloff who captains a tour boat through the harbor knows the importance of the tourism.

"Being in the tourist industry, it is very important to me and I think we lost some of the heart of it, but it will come back," Rohloff said.

There is some initial uplifting news. While the block where the fire started is closed, nearby business are seeing an upswing.

"Walking traffic is really good. Folks are curious and folks want to see it for themselves. They are doing all that walking and they are hungry. They are stopping and patronizing our restaurants that are still there. They are mitigating some of that," Tucker said.

But that slight upswing won't last forever and officials are working to make sure that visitors continue to visit.

"We have people all over the country that have been to Georgetown. They have a special place in their heart fro Georgetown. It is one of those unique charming communities that people are drawn to," Tucker said.

"People have a vision for what Front Street is and what it will be. When they look at that gap and that vacant property, they are going to look at what it could be in 2 years or even a year from now," Tucker said.

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