• Georgetown Times
  • Waccamaw Times
  • Inlet Outlook

We can all help promote tourism

  • Thursday, January 2, 2014

We often hear about “six degrees of separation” that says we are connected to everyone else by six or fewer steps — a friend of a friend can lead to a relationship or connection within six people.

Another expression is that someone is an ambassador — for goodwill, economic development or the like.

Over the past few weeks those two concepts have come together with a man from British Columbia, a woman in a wheelchair pushing herself along the beach at Pawleys Island, and the joy at being in the beautiful places in Georgetown County.

The man from British Columbia came to a stop seeking directions to attractive spots in Georgetown. He had been on the road for 13 weeks to see America and was enthralled to learn about some of the attractions on and near Front Street in Georgetown.

That’s the same street where a fire on Sept. 25 destroyed eight buildings. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley came to Georgetown the next day, and returned a couple of weeks later. She brought with her several people, including Duane Parrish, who’s director of the state’s Parks, Recreation and Tourism.

Haley promised to do all she could to help Georgetown, and Parrish told the Georgetown Times his agency would devote funding for co-op advertising to promote the city.

On Saturday, my wife and I went to evening Mass at Precious Blood of Christ Catholic Church in Pawleys Island. She volunteers monthly to open the gift shop after the Saturday Mass.

While there, Pawleys Town Councilman Howard Ward and his daughter-in-law stopped in. He greeted my wife and introduced his daughter-in-law, who lives in Atlanta. She’s been coming to Precious Blood Church for 22 years, since it was first organized and was in a three-car garage on the property.

She loves it here, and she and her family always enjoy their visits to the area.

Ward mentioned that he was walking on the beach earlier that morning and encountered the woman in a wheelchair, pushing herself along the sandy beach. About 30 years old, she said she’s been coming to Pawleys Island for awhile. The challenge of making it through the sand — tough as it is — is something she just had to do for herself each time she comes for a visit.

After enjoying our conversation, we headed up to Myrtle Beach to run some errands, then stopped at a restaurant in the Murrells Inlet area for supper.

We had a good meal and got into a friendly conversation with a couple from Wilmington, N.C.

The husband couldn’t fool us though — he’s originally from Boston, Mass. They moved to Wilmington a few years ago. He jokingly said, here I am living at the beach near Wilmington, and I have to come to Pawleys Island and Murrells Inlet to another beach community for a vacation.

As we talked, he mentioned that they had seen a wedding party at the simple and yet beautiful Pawleys Island Chapel. She was taken with the beauty of the area, as was her husband, and he was also fascinated with the size of the Pawleys Island Town Hall and Police Department.

He said they saw some tracks in the sand along the beach. None of us knew whether they were from the wheelchair or not, but we all agreed that lady is tough to face her challenge each year.

We got to talking about their vacation plans. For years they’ve been saying they wanted to go to Charleston, but they haven’t made it yet. They both love history.

I suggested that they would go through Georgetown on their way and encouraged them to take the time to visit in Georgetown. The Rice Museum and Town Clock have their history of the rice culture, and beautiful art works and collectibles. Just a block away is the South Carolina Maritime Museum, with its information and displays about shipping, the Port of Georgetown, and the industries and attractions of the sea and the rivers.

Down Broad Street, the Georgetown County Museum has just moved into its new home and tells much about the history of the area.

A few blocks farther up Front Street is the Kaminski House Museum, which shows much about the history of the area and the fascinating items Harold and Julia Kaminski collected before she gave the house to the City of Georgetown.

Along with those museums, we mentioned, there are a lot of shops and nice restaurants in the city. We told him about the fire, but added that most of those businesses have relocated. And we told him about the grand Plantation Tours that will be coming up in the spring.

All of this isn’t so much to say what my wife and I did. Rather, it’s to point out that each of us can be a living, breathing advertisement and tourism ambassador for our county.

We’ve got the wonderful beaches, golf courses, plenty of accommodations, protected lands, history and outdoor activities, fishing and hunting, shops and restaurants.

For business and industry, our county and our towns welcome the new and appreciate the existing businesses.

The work done by local communities and the help from PRT in promoting the area are great.

Each of us can also take on the role ourselves to promote the area.

It’s intriguing to learn of the many people who visit here, like what they see and the people they meet, and decide to come back, to relocate and to invest of themselves in our community. And so many people will quickly make it their own community.

Instead of six degrees of separation, we could instead think of six degrees of connection.

Tommy Howard is editor of Inlet Outlook.

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