Consider This - Sports Tourism

By Ted Fortenberry - bio | email

Local leaders are working with the South Carolina Department of Transportation to figure out a way to accommodate a major triathlon event that organizers want to hold in Horry County. The plan includes closing a portion of Highway 31. However, state law prohibits the DOT from allowing the closure of any restricted access highways for these types of events.

Consider This: If state law does not allow the DOT to work with local municipalities for special events of this nature, then state legislators need to rewrite the laws. I've personally participated in similar events, including the New York City Marathon, and if New York can close down the streets of Manhattan for an entire day, surely we can close down a portion of Hwy. 31 - or 17 or 544 or 501 or whatever roadway needs closing - for a few hours to accommodate an event like this.

Sports tourism will continue to grow and this region is a prime location to host these events with our favorable weather and wonderful amenities. With today's increased focus on healthy living and going "green," triathlons, marathons, and other low impact sports-related projects fall into those categories. They obviously encourage a healthy lifestyle, and they also are easy on the environment. That's a perfect fit for this coastal region.

If we intend to grow sports tourism we have to be amenable to working with these groups to host their events. It will take a cooperative spirit between all parties for this effort to be successful. If existing laws don't allow this cooperation to take place then state lawmakers need to start working on legislation that would remove the barriers that are holding back what could develop into a huge growth category for the region.

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