CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Owners of walking, carriage and bus sightseeing
companies here plan to make operational changes due to restrictions
on how they do business in residential neighborhoods.
The City Council in September voted to curb the hours the
companies operate in Charleston's historic district.
The city also will allow fewer people in walking tour groups and
fewer large buses in the residential district.
The city's Office of Tourism Management will take a gradual
approach in its enforcement of the new rules, said Vanessa
Turner-Maybank, tourism director and city clerk. Turner-Maybank
said the city will hire two more full-time tourism enforcement
officers; currently there are three full-time and six part-time
The amendments limit the number of people in walking tours to no
more than 20 and reduce the number of large buses touring at one
time from eight to six. They also reduce the hours that tours can
operate in residential neighborhoods to 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., or 5 p.m,
Eastern Standard Time. Previously, tours could operate from 8 a.m.
to 6 p.m.
The amendments stemmed from a 16-month-long effort that studied
the impact of tourism on the quality of life in the residential
"It's not a major change to the way the tours operate -- people
can still tour the residential areas. In fact, I think the changes
will improve the quality of the tours," said Turner-Maybank.
Linda Wohlfeil, a fifth-generation Charlestonian and owner of
Absolutely Charleston, a walking tour company, said the changes
would affect her business "minimally" because she's made changes to
conform to the new rules. "The tour companies can always work
around the rules and regulations by timing things differently. I
can do a tour of the commercial district and still get in all of
the city's history and charm," Wohlfeil said.
Despite her business' ability to cope with the changes, Wohlfeil
decried the efforts of residents to "build a gated community that
keeps visitors out."
"I guess it's not surprising that well over 50% of these noisy,
squeaky wheels are not native to South Carolina, much less
Charleston," Wohlfeil said. "These are very wealthy people who have
found a beautiful place, corporate America some of them, who now
say 'I have mine now and don't want anyone else to have it,' " she