2013 Theses Master's
Assessing and Managing Cruise Ship Tourism in Historic Port Cities: Case Study Charleston, South Carolina
Since 1970, the cruise industry has grown by more than 2,100 percent; cruise ships can now carry more than 6,000 passengers. Preservationists and planners managing some of the world’s most emblematic historic port cities—including Falmouth, Jamaica; Dubrovnik, Croatia; and Venice, Italy—have identified negative impacts (e.g., incompatible development, loss of
intangible culture, pollution, wear and tear) caused by the surge in cruise ship traffic and infrastructure. Yet cruise markets continue to be developed within historic port cities without any assessment or regulation, in part because responses to this issue are still under development. This thesis is the first comprehensive study to explicitly position this preservation planning challenge within the field of heritage tourism management. It is also the first study to analyze international examples of adverse effects created by cruise tourism in historic port cities and present a list of tools—such as tourism management organizations, carrying capacity, port quotas and congestion
fees—that can be applied to assessing and managing impacts, building on the theory that development in and around historic districts should stay within limits of acceptable change. Furthermore, this thesis uses Charleston, South Carolina as a case study and creates a framework for an assessment and phased management plan that would allow the city to reap the benefits of
cruise tourism while mitigating costs and protecting invaluable cultural resources. Charleston is an important case as it is the first and only port in the United States to gain international attention for opposing the cruise industry specifically on the grounds that it impacts the city’s historic character. It is currently being transformed into a new cruise terminal without any preservation or environmental review. This thesis draws on research on the relationship between cruise tourism and historic ports in order to anticipate the impacts of Charleston’s proposed terminal.
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