CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Tourism and hospitality is a billion dollar life-line employing forty thousand workers across Charleston. Leaders say tourism is on the rebound after a summer crippled by COVID-19 but say there’s still a long way to go.
Hospitality and tourism leaders say their focus remains on the importance of masking up and following guidelines, hoping the number of visitors to Charleston will continue to grow.
“But we’re still not out of the woods yet, we’re still running in the low forty percentiles as far as the capacity percentage,” says Dan Blumenstock, a board member with the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The Charleston Visitors Bureau, normally promoting travel to the city has switched efforts to COVID-19 guideline education to ensure a safe environment for visitors.
“It’s been more of the let’s wear our mask, let’s wash out hands, let’s make sure we’re doing all of the appropriate things,” says Blumenstock.
Despite the slow increase of tourism numbers, Blumenstock from the CVB says numbers aren’t showing much growth in the near future.
“We always try to look at October as being a fairly solid month from a tourism perspective,” says Blumenstock. “Those numbers are not on the books right now.”
A hospitality industry that serves as a lifeline to roughly 40,000, leaders are working to ensure those who keep the industry moving are taken care of.
“We’re trying to look at anything and everything that we can do in order to make sure that their livelihoods are also still taken care of,” says Blumenstock.
Restaurants say they are seeing a similar growth. Sam Mustafa, CEO of the Charleston Hospitality Group, says the group has also noticed the bump in visitors.
“Each week we are growing in the amount of people and the numbers we’re seeing that are coming out,” says Mustafa.
The Charleston Visitors Bureau says it’s continuing to prepare workers for a hopeful return to normalcy sooner rather than later.
“If a vaccine or something of that nature is out, it provides a safer environment for people to travel,” says Blumenstock. “I do feel that Charleston is really poised very well.”
Despite the number of those visiting Charleston rising, Blumenstock says he’s hopeful something similar to the payment protection plan will be implemented during the winter months for small businesses.