Last week’s rare winter snow storm in Charleston certainly took a bite out of tourism, but it wasn’t all bad.
Hotels and tourist attractions lost several days of business after more than 5 inches of snow blanketed Charleston on Wednesday and remained there for several more days in the cold snap.
But the unusual weather also generated national publicity, and that’s never bad for a tourist city.
“This week we received plenty of regional and national media coverage of Charleston and the winter storm,” Charleston Visitors & Convention Bureau spokesman Doug Warner said. “While most of this coverage would make potential visitors rethink their plans to visit this weekend due to travel concerns, it nonetheless presented our community in a very favorable light. Most showed beautiful photos of iconic Charleston landmarks covered in snow with visitors and locals playing in the streets.”
Snow still covered many of the city’s iconic sites Friday. Most of the major attractions remained closed after Wednesday’s snowstorm, and many streets were icy. But tourists were walking around, taking in the sights.
Tour guide Tommy Dew called around to several hotels and rounded up a group looking for something to do. About a half dozen people met him in the historic City Market on Friday morning. They told him they were from Houston, New York, Florida and Germany.
“This is a spectacular time to be in the city, because this is a once-in-a-generation weather event,” Dew said.
“I think it’s a treat,” one of the women said.
The CVB had not yet received reports on how much business hotels had lost. Certainly there were still plenty of tourists in town. Guests from Belmond Charleston Place admired a frozen fountain before venturing out onto frozen sidewalks near the City Market.
“The first weekend in January is historically one of the least busy of the entire year,” Warner said. “We anticipate that business will be further reduced this weekend as a result of the unprecedented snow and ice our area has experienced, and the well-below normal temperatures expected through the weekend.”
The snow-covered Charleston Visitors Center on Meeting Street remained closed Friday, but staff was responding to inquiries by telephone and social media, Warner said.
The Charleston Museum also was still closed Friday, but that didn’t stop a Pineapple Tour Group bus from pulling up so those seated warmly inside could see the Confederate submarine Hunley reproduction.
Reach Dave Munday at 843-937-5553.