With the International African American Museum (IAAM) in Charleston approaching its grand opening, Richland County’s Conservation Commission is working on plans to drive heritage tourism closer to home.
Set to open in January, the IAAM is expected to bring local, regional, national and international visitors to Charleston to learn about connections across the African diaspora, the spread of African-American culture and influence, and the movement for justice and equality.
The Conservation Commission will work with a vendor to develop a Heritage Tourism Marketing Plan for Richland County. Through a comprehensive campaign, this plan will seek to bolster the County’s ability to attract visitors interested in African-American history, extending heritage tourism experiences in the state.
“Some important parts of that history are here in our County,” said Glenice Pearson, chair of the commission’s Historic Committee. “A number of efforts have been mounted to interpret and recall that history, but there’s still a lot of history that can be told.”
The marketing plan will use input from historic site leaders, stakeholders, potential visitors and others to highlight a range of sites, natural resources and other County-based resources, allowing travelers to select from a menu of experiences during their stay.
Some of Richland County’s heritage tourism sites and activities include:
“Historical and cultural resources in Richland County are important to highlight because they provide an opportunity for everyone to learn and interact in a positive way around our history and culture,” said Quinton Epps, the County’s conservation division manager. “Additionally, providing avenues for understanding our history and culture adds value and connection to those items while enhancing their protection and promotion, as well as increasing the economic benefits from tourism and visitation.”
A searchable online resource created by the Conservation Commission, the Cultural Heritage Resource Inventory and Directory, contains more information on heritage tourism sites in the County. Available at historicrichlandcountysc.com, this site documents historic and cultural sites under themes such as Historic Tours & Attractions, National Historic Register Sites, and African American.
The commission is in the process of selecting a vendor through the County’s procurement office to develop the marketing plan. If County Council approves the plan, the project is expected to take nine to 12 months for development.