Protect tourism interests for better future of county

Published 4:13 pm Friday, March 11, 2011

To the Editor:
I am a Polk County property owner, and interact with Polk County Travel & Tourism, as the landlord of a seasonal rental house. I encourage their efforts to remain as an independent group, separate from the chamber of commerce.
In Aiken, S.C., the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce operated a tourism initiative for a time, but realizing inevitable conflict of interests, the chamber stepped away from Tourism.
Now, Aiken County as well as the cities of Aiken and N. Augusta, each has their own tourism department.
Perhaps even more importantly, it is possible, and not unlikely, for a local chamber of commerce, in response to national business trends and U.S. Chamber of Commerce directives, to lose sight of delicate local issues, which should guide in the protection of an area such as Polk County.
Polk County’s unique, unspoiled countryside, and quaint villages continue to draw property owners such as my own family, who continues in the fifth generation to invest and spend time in the Saluda area, as well as repeat “visitors” who appreciate the charm of the area.
Depending on “tourism” dollars leaves any area vulnerable to over development, and without stakeholder representation, it is too easy to lose the goose that laid golden egg.
As a Polk County property owner, who would not be inclined to join the chamber of commerce, I appreciate having Polk County Travel & Tourism at the helm.
I believe their effort toward “eco-tourism,” is the safest way to draw the right visitors to Polk County.
–– Jenne Stoker

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