Bob Bestler | Charleston, Columbia trade barbs over tourism title while Myrtle Beach basks in tourist delights

On the LooseOctober 26, 2012 

I've been amused, this week, as I watched South Carolina's two largest cities -- Charleston and Columbia -- duke it out over tourism supremacy.

Both are, of course, also-rans to Myrtle Beach, the state's premier tourist destination, but let's not go there for the moment.

The feud began with a poll of some 46,000 Conde Nast readers that showed that of all the great cities in the world, Charleston was the one they would most like to visit.

Yes, you read that right. Our own little old Holy City is their favorite destination in all the world, even better than Florence, Italy (No. 3), Bankok (No. 4), Sydney (No. 6) or Buenos Aires (No. 9).

New York? London? Paris? Rome? Too bad. None of them made the cut.

The State newspaper in Columbia, in a weekly column called The Buzz, celebrated the news this way:

“(Gov. Nikki Haley) visited Charleston on Wednesday to celebrate the region being named the best tourist town in the world -- seriously? -- by Conde Nast.''

To which Brian Hicks, a Charleston Post and Courier columnist, replied:

“Seriously? Not sure what we did to deserve that.''

Sorry. Brian. You're my hero in these parts but my reaction to the Conde Nast news was exactly that: Seriously?

I agree that Charleston has some neat stuff.

It has a lot of history, most centered around Fort Sumter and the Charleston Harbor.

It's got a some nice restaurants and a few nice golf courses. It has an aquarium.

Columbia, on the other hand, claims to have the top tourist attraction in the state, the Riverbanks Zoo.

I've been there and it is, indeed, a fine zoo.

Hicks would agree: “Stop and see it if you're in Columbia and bored.''

So it goes.

What neither of them have are the Grand Strand's 14 million visitors a year, more than 100 designer golf courses, tbe finest sclupture garden in the country, the largest Ferris wheel on the East Coast, its own aquarium and about 50 miles of beachfront.

Well, actually, Charleston does have one beach. It's called Folly. Need I say more?

Contact BOB BESTLER at

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