As I understand it the readers of Conde Nast magazine vote for their favorite travel cities and a winner is declared along with 24 runners up. Cities worldwide are in the running and I suspect that every visitor and convention bureau in hundreds of cities are stuffing the ballot
box to win the coveted award.
I liken it to baseball. For Major League Baseball’s all-star game, the fans vote for their favorite players and the positions on the teams are filled with players who have the most votes. The team websites, the local broadcasters and local sportswriters encourage the fans to vote early and often.
On the other hand The Baseball Hall of Fame elects its members according to certain criteria and the vote is limited to a handful of sports writers. Members of the Baseball Hall of Fame are an elite group. And so it is with the top ten cities in world chosen by The Conde Nast editors.
This year the reader’s selection that came in #2 worldwide and #1 in the U.S. was the same. And you know what city that is? Of course, it is Charleston, South Carolina, not to be confused with Charleston, West Virginia, not that they could be confused. If you have ever been to WVA you know what I mean. That is four years in row that the readers have chosen Charleston. And you know what that means? Yes, it means more letters to the editor agreeing and disagreeing with the results but more importantly it means MORE tourists.
It means more men with maps and glazed expressions on East Bay Street, fewer parking spaces in the garages (unless you are SPA), longer wait times for lunch at Fleet Landing, more horse droppings for the gardens of Charleston, and that is just the beginning of the trouble here in the Holy City, to steal a line from Professor Harold Hill in The Music Man. The Mensch has a plan to avoid the trouble and it does not include 76 trombones.
The Mensch proposes a lottery, a Charleston Visitors Lottery. Better yet, a Low Country Lottery, just for the alliteration of it, that would keep the number of tourists to some optimum number. Enter the Low Country Lottery to visit Charleston. Only winners are allowed onto the peninsula. And unlike some lotteries where the odds of winning are 175 million to one, there would be hundreds of winners, maybe thousands.
It seems to me that after four years of being #1 and in the top ten for a decade, the city fathers should have a pretty good idea of how many tourists would be the optimum number to make Charleston an uncrowded and perfect place to visit. After all they did it for the bars on King Street, right? Put the actuaries to work figuring out the probabilities, permutations and the slight of hand needed to maintain a rosy tourist economy without overburdening the system. A Nirvana of happy tourists, merchants and citizens should be the goal.
For instance, wouldn’t it be nice to stroll through the Market without shouldering your way through the crowds, excuse me, pardon me, coming through? Wouldn’t it be pleasant not to have an interminable leg-crossing wait outside the restroom?And what about Justine’s or Hominy Grill? A reasonable wait for a table would be ten minutes. With a perfect number of tourists, Tommy Doyle’s horses and mules could stroll without the worry of being sideswiped by an SUV. The pedicabs would have more right of way. Even the ghosts would get a break from their nightly hauntings.
And now that the International Association of Golf Tour Operators has selected Charleston as the North American Golf Destination of the Year, golfers will be bypassing Myrtle Beach for the Low Country. A lottery would keep the peninsula from being overcrowded with tourist wives waiting for their golfing husbands, who would always get their tee time, to come back from the 18th hole. Any lottery profit would be used to build public restrooms south of Broad Street.