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saamh

Tourism in Charlotte

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Charlotte has the banks (for now), has business, has a world class airport, has good weather, but Charlotte does not have a signature structure or structures that truly define Charlotte and make it a unique place, that tourists from around the nation and even the world would want to come here to visit. If the brain group that leads Charlotte truly becomes visionary and starts planning for something that will truly set this city apart from all others, then, and only then, will Charlotte be a world class city. Charlotte has the foundation, it just needs the structure. When people think of the major cities in the country (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Boston, etc...) each one of them has history and tourist attractions that people cannot see anywhere else. Charlotte if the desire was there could create something magnificent just like cities such as Las Vegas with gambling and Atlanta where they truly took advantage of their eclectic Southern backgrounds. Yes the economy is bad right now, but this is the time where something needs to be done, sure you can build something when everything is going well, but when people take risks and chances in the troubling times, and endure, that is when you become legendary, and Charlotte can become legendary and world class if they do something inconceivable and brilliant. I love Charlotte, and I want other people to love Charlotte as well, this is why I care so much about this.

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Its a start but that only has an appeal to people who like NASCAR, and NASCAR is apparently not doing well according to recent reports. Charlotte needs something that everyone would enjoy.

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Charlotte should build something like the GO Center proposed for Greenville, SC that showcases all of the local attractions. It's going to rise fairly high and have a panoramic view of downtown and the mountains. Something like it would be perfect for Charlotte in my opinion. You can see more information on the project here: http://www.greenvillecvb.com/go/

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Since Charlotte doesn't really have the history, or rather the historic stock, or geography that make tourist magnets the tourist magnets they are, all the city really can do is take a page from Atlanta's playbook and try to land a bunch of museums and conventions.

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I've have said for years that an observation deck on one of the buildings, or something like a large ferris wheel would go a long ways towards the goals you mention.

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I've have said for years that an observation deck on one of the buildings, or something like a large ferris wheel would go a long ways towards the goals you mention.

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The number of tourists and tourist dollars seem to be underestimated. Charlotte has a tremendous amount of tourist money from NASCAR races, fishing tournements, conventions, sports, and even school field trips to student oriented venues. Much effort is being presently expended in improving tourism with the construction of museums and performing arts venues, etc. Each of the aforementioned cities are old and former important trade routes of the original 13 states. They were considerably large cities when Charlotte had a population of one thousand. All are at least twice as large as Charlotte and all grew at a time when there was a mass exidus from Europe and othe continents creating defined ethnic areas which have been great tourist attractions, ie. China towns, Italian towns, Jewish areas etc. Charlotte is a new city and that didn't happen here. Creating something unique do draw tourists is somewhat hampered by not having a river in the center city as most great cities evolve around a river, and we don't have a mountain or desert. That leaves us totally dependent on the construction something unique. Another limiting factor is space. A new venue, ie. a Madam Toussaud's wax museum sort of thing would have to occupy the bottom floors of a existing building or a newly constructed one. Having lived in London longer than in most places, I think of venues that draw tourists there besides the Thames River and I think of THe Dungeon which could also be in the bottom floor of a building. It depicts horrendous crimes and could be based on crimes worldwide or even those more local. I feel that a space needle would be nice, but I also think that it would be used and enjoyed by locals more than a tourist draw. I also think of The EYE in London, the huge farris wheel and how successful it is in London. But, there is the matter of space.

I finally drove down to the N.C. Music Factory the other day after difficulty finding it. What a great place. But, other than locals, I can't see anyone else going there. It is very awkward. It has to somehow be made to link with uptown. The addition of shuttles or marked walking paths will be the only hope of success for that venue, IMO. Maybe a marked walking route (Like the Liberty Route in Boston), that would lead to the Music Factory would be a great idea? Walkability is a highly underestimated feature in tourism. A better walking link to the Southend would greatly improve walkability in the uptown area. A larger pedestrian bridge needs to be constructed. And, I would love to be able to walk from uptown to NODA without being murdered or mugged. A link between the two would also help tourism in reference to walking.

Something that bothers me is that Charlotte gets no advertising. Charlotte is a great city for a weekend in a great hotel, a show or game, drinks and dinner at great restaurants and bars and even walking. I rarely see weekend get-aways advertised. When I look at magazines like Southern Living, I see Asheville, Wrightsville Beach, Raleigh, and other places except Charlotte. That shocks me.

I would personally rather walk around downtown Charlotte than downtown Atlanta. The inner-loop of Charlotte makes downtown a better mix of business, entertainment and housing than Atlanta. When the museums are completed in Charlotte, it will be so much better. We just have to come up with some great unique ideas. I think an aquarium would be O.K. Included in an aquarium could be a N.C. mariners museum with the history of the "ship's graveyard", Blackbeard, the Lost Colony, Virginia Dare, etc. since they are all linked our water resources.

I look at it this way, we are in the growing stage and things will get better and better. We have done a lot for tourism, but we can and will do more. This is just the beginning.

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Charlotte has the foundation, it just needs the structure. When people think of the major cities in the country (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., San Francisco, Boston, etc...) each one of them has history and tourist attractions that people cannot see anywhere else.

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Honestly I think your right, better and safer transportation is key. I personally think they should take more advantage of the lakes in the short term too. They need to try and push harder for the lynx rail to lake norman. That would be great. Also maybe they should consider building a line to the airport too. That would be great to get people from the airport to uptown. Charlotte has a lot of smaller attractions that appeal to some specific groups of people which is great. But you are also right to say Charlotte doesn't have that big ethnic history that other great cities have. I am saying Charlotte should try to think of something on the scale of disneyworld. I know it is really really difficult but there has to be something that could work. And in terms of most major cities having a water way through their central cities, I have always been fantasizing a sort of river walk like San Antonio has. Or maybe since the buildings are already built and you probably can't do the river walk, how about an artificial lake around the loop, not huge, but just a big enough size to make a noticeable difference in the Charlotte center city experience, and then have that aquarium connected to that.

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I agree with the sentiments stated above ^ It's hard to beat, being blessed with watefront or a close in mountain range and we don't have that, so like similar cities we kind have to feel around and make our own "thing". There are good and bad examples of this nationwide. If things go according to plan and we look back a few years from now, we will have a Hall of Fame and several new outstanding museums. This will help us stand out a bit more. Overall though Charlotte is known for being an ideal place to raise a family. And for being luckily situated between Asheville and Charleston. And it can feel a little demoralizing being liked for your proximity to other places instead of your own town. But you know the old trope...Charlotte's a great place to live but I wouldn't want to visit there. The saying exists for a reason.

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I equate Charlotte to other mid-size cities that you wouldn't select as first-hand tourist destinations like Cincinnati, Cleveland, Sacramento, Dallas, and Indianapolis. I think Indy is by far the most similar, and that is part of the reason why the Charlotte government leadership has visited the citiy to brainstorm, plan, and collect feedback from their elected officials. The lack of a body of water in center city is definitely the biggest piece missing. I heard that there is a plan to divert the Catawba downtown (j/k).

To provide some background, my family moved from Long Island in 1992 (the first wave of carpetbaggers) and have witnessed the tremendous growth of the city. My father want to Belmont Abbey during the 1970's and remembers Charlotte as a speck on the map where the only reason they would head to town would be to go to the "Granddaddy of them all" over on Wilkinson. I love living in Charlotte, and in the past I have defended myself to others who are ignorant of the city or critical of the fact that it is not NY, Chicago, LA, etc. Some of the biggest offenders were my extended family (all in NY) who had no idea of the size of the city. They thought it was only tobacco fields and rednecks. NY and California are very similar in that many of the people from those states are fairly absorbed with their state being the center of the universe...

NASCAR is the main tourism draw, and in my opinion, it should still continue to be even with the recent lull in racing viewership. Though I've never been to a race, I think it is the best way for Charlotte to make a name as a tourist stop. Now as far as living here and dealing with that connotation I guess I could deal with that :P

I still love NY, but I'll continue to live here and take the quick flight up north to visit each year. Someone just figure a way to add some water to uptown (expanded aquarium, please)!

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I think one of the biggest things Charlotte can do is try to land more sports - college basketball and football. The city has done good by getting a bowl game (one of the highest attended non-BCS bowl games this year) and regularly hosting a regular season match-ups (Virgina Tech and ECU this past season). I can't remember, but I think Charlotte is either in the running or has secured hosting one or two ACC football championship games.

I heard so many great things about Charlotte during the ACC tournament. We need to try to host as many basketball events as possible; CIAA, ACC, opening rounds of the NCAA, maybe even A10 or C-USA tournaments. These events, along with NASCAR and conventions, bring the majority of tourists to the city.

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I'm curious as to why people think we need more tourist attractions or specifically why we want to be a tourist destination?

To possibly lure new residents that like the area while visiting as tourists?

To generate income in the form of sales and other taxes from tourists?

To get more national exposure in the media to help market the city to businesses?

I'm not saying whether or not these are valid reasons or not, I'm just curious as to why people feel Charlotte should try to attract tourists. I lived in Boston and loved it, but it's appeal is from its historic and urban nature. I could never see myself living in Orlando or Las Vegas.

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Get people to come to Charlotte and spend, spend, spend! Taxes for the government, plus hotels, restaurants, bars, retail stores, all get more customers.

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Exactly InitialD, the more tourists you get the more money you have to spend on things like the new Lynx line. What do you guys think about legalizing gambling??? I know it is pretty much impossible given there are so many church organizations here, but if you really think about it, besides Louisiana there is no place to gamble in the south... But figursky I lol when you said that joke about the Catawba River, if only there was some way lol

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I think by "tourism" you mean more than "destinations." I think some of you are caught up by the notion that if we build the right thing, more people will come. These cities- for the most part- have the tourist destinations because of their history. For example, Seattle Space Needle was a product of the Worlds Fair, a modern Eiffel Tower so to speak.

Charlotte has places to go, but if you're visiting there's not a place to go wander. In other cities you can wander aimlessly for hours and find all sorts of great things. The great cities preserve their history. When you go there, the history is what appeals to you, whether its a conscious thing or not. Charlotte does not do this. Therefore Charlotte will not be a tourist destination in the in the way y'all mean. This city has no soul. Everything is new including most of the people, the buildings, the sports, etc. There aren't traditions here except for naming roads to be confusing as hell. The type of tourism that this city generates is mostly event-based, or retail-based due to its sheer size and influence in the region. NASCAR, Panthers, Bobcats Area events of all sorts, SouthPark Mall, Concord Mills, etc. People come to Charlotte because there is stuff here to do, they do not come here because its a great urban center.

I also say this coming from South Carolina. I came to Charlotte for its big city offerings, but not to explore like I would do in Charleston.

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I'm curious as to why people think we need more tourist attractions or specifically why we want to be a tourist destination?

......

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^ Thanks Monsoon. I agree and guess what you stated was the point I was getting at. Just building "things" that make people want to come here for a weekend and doesn't add much to the residents doesn't seem like the direction I'd want my city to go.

To go back to London, people often visit it for the variety of offerings, not many of which are aimed at intentionally drawing tourists. Buckingham Palace, the theatres, the shopping high streets, the squares, etc are all there before the concept of tourism even existed. The Eye and wax musuem and such were merely added as a way of capturing additional tourist dollars, and are not the drivers of London's tourism.

This thread seems to be more about building a Charlotte Eye as opposed to creating a city that is intrinsically appleaing to tourists (great architecture, history, quirkiness, nightlife, shopping, etc.).

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^Those are my sentiments exactly! Building an observation deck really means nothing to me. How many people have made a trip to St. Louis specifically to see the Arch? Or, San Fran specifically to see the Golden Gate Bridge? Maybe London to ride on the London Eye? My guess is they are few and far between. The other end of the spectrum is what if you build something that ends up being a complete flop? Such as the observation tower in Knoxville, or the Pyramid in Memphis.

Cities become destinations for those reasons mentioned by altrvr, not because you build a flashy rotating diner.

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I'm curious as to why people think we need more tourist attractions or specifically why we want to be a tourist destination?

To possibly lure new residents that like the area while visiting as tourists?

To generate income in the form of sales and other taxes from tourists?

To get more national exposure in the media to help market the city to businesses?

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I completely agree with Charlotte_native, there is a huge difference between tourists and visitors, and like atlrvr stated London's many attractions that are considered "tourist" destinations, were built a long time ago for different purposes. Monsoon said it best, and I feel the exact same way, Charlotte needs to have attractions so that Charlotteans can use them first then everyone else. Charlotte is adding various individual projects and it's great, every decent sized city needs them. But I still do think in order to be considered a world-class city that I am sure everyone on this forum would agree that is their wish for Charlotte as well, you need to attract not just visitors but tourists to invest money into the city. Tourism is a win-win situation for everyone involved because one the tourists have a great time and two the city residents get more attractions for themselves and more money invested into the cities so their infrastructure and way of life enhances.

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I equate Charlotte to other mid-size cities that you wouldn't select as first-hand tourist destinations like Cincinnati, Cleveland, Sacramento, Dallas, and Indianapolis.a way to add some water to uptown (expanded aquarium, please)!

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Exactly InitialD, the more tourists you get the more money you have to spend on things like the new Lynx line. What do you guys think about legalizing gambling??? I know it is pretty much impossible given there are so many church organizations here, but if you really think about it, besides Louisiana there is no place to gamble in the south... But figursky I lol when you said that joke about the Catawba River, if only there was some way lol

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