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Explore Charleston helps locals stay — or jet away

Residents of the Lowcountry are well aware of the success of Explore Charleston — Charleston has, after all, been voted a top tourism destination for several years. But a lesser-known aspect of the Bureau’s work involves advocating for local quality of life.

It may seem odd, given the words “convention and visitors” are in their name, but the team at Explore Charleston is as committed to serving and preserving the proverbial goose as it is tourism’s golden egg. After all, those working in the tourism industry also qualify as locals and every local wants both a prosperous economy and a high quality of life. The ongoing goal is balance, as one should not suffer as a result of the other.

“It only makes sense we’d be on the side of smart growth, better transportation solutions and livability issues,” said Helen Hill, chief executive officer of Explore Charleston. “If the residents of our area are happy, that’s going to come across when they interact with visitors. Our community has been voted ‘Most Mannerly City in America’ numerous times and part of our job is to ensure the quality of life here remains rooted in hospitality.”

The kindness of locals is one of the big reasons visitors flock to Charleston. If one ever doubts this, simply ask a visitor how they’ve been treated by area residents — and get ready to blush from the praise.

Another reason Explore Charleston says they are committed to serving locals is the critical economic impact locals have on businesses that thrive on “disposable income.” Yes, some establishments seem to flourish on visitors, but local patronage is critical across the board. Local support often makes the difference between financial struggle and a profitable year.

“We have a responsibility to businesses all over the Lowcountry,” said Cole Schrand, Explore Charleston’s Local Media Coordinator, “from North Charleston to the barrier islands. It’s not all just about downtown Charleston. If you’re in the business of offering dining, shopping, or things to see and do, our goal is for you to benefit from visitors and residents alike.”

What about when we locals want to travel ourselves? Well, an interesting aspect of the Explore Charleston’s locals-only website is information about the direct flights leaving Charleston International Airport.

“There was an old joke,” says Hill. “If you die in Charleston, you’re going to have a layover on your way to where you’re going. Air service through Charleston International has improved greatly with nonstop flights to 25 airports and 21 cities. One of our goals at Explore Charleston is to keep our airline partners happy and profitable.”

Savvy Charlestonians are learning how affordable and convenient it can be to enjoy a three-day weekend in another city. Currently, a variety of airlines offer direct flights to Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Miami, Nashville, New York, Philadelphia, Seattle, St. Louis and Washington, D.C.

“The inbound flights are thriving,” added Hill. “We want to make sure the outbound flights are full as well.”

To learn more about the Explore Charleston’s new and growing locals-only efforts, visit There you can create an account that offers access to a wide range of locals-only deals, view a calendar of events and find information about both air and ground transportation options.

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