08 July 2013

Heritage Tourism

Beaufort County is visited by millions of people each year and those visits have considerable impact in our government and business pocketbooks, on the environment, and on our infrastructure needs and use.

According to The Economic Impact of Travel on South Carolina Counties 2011: A Study Prepared for the South Carolina  Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism by the U.S. Travel Association Washington, D.C., August 2012, Beaufort County ranks third in South Carolina, earning $1.0 billion in domestic travel expenditures. These expenditures generated $197.5 million in payroll as well as 11,900 jobs within the county. See http://www.scprt.com/our-partners/tourismstatistics/researchreports.aspx to download this - and other tourism related - reports. 

Some of those tourist dollars derive from heritage tourists. The National Trust’s definition of cultural heritage tourism is “traveling to experience the places and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past and present. It includes historic, cultural and natural resources."

We are blessed in Beaufort County to have museums, architectural treasures, historic sites, library collections and archives that share Beaufort's past with interested visitors.  Too often we do not experience the full range of the depth, breadth, and scope of the places in which we live.  I am as guilty as everyone else about neglecting to read the Historic Markers along the roads.  Do you take advantage of the cultural heritage resources available here? Do you take folks to the Parris Island, Coastal Discovery, Heyward or John Mark Verdier museums?  Do you ride out to Old Sheldon Church to look at the ruins of the Prince William's Parish church and cemetery?  Have you gone to Fort Howell?  Have you stopped by the restored old schoolhouse near Sun City?  If you have done any of these activities, then you have behaved like a heritage tourist. 

To see what the average "heritage tourist" looks like demographically speaking, visit http://www.culturalheritagetourism.org/resources/visitorProfile.htm.

Of course, one can be a "heritage tourist" and not "fit" the demographics.  I most certainly am a heritage tourist, and I don't "fit" all the criteria uncovered in the demographics.

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