In a study unveiled last week, a consultant hired by the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism presented ideas to make the Midlands more tourist friendly.
Some of them are pretty out there - a world-class building and marina at the site of the Olympia quarry. Some are a little more grounded - expanding the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.
Other suggestions included an African-American heritage trail, a resort on Lake Murray and a cruise connecting Columbia to Charleston.
(See the full report at scprt.com/tourism-business/growthopportunities.aspx)
PRT director Chad Prosser talked about working to make the Columbia area more of a tourism magnet with The State last week:
How do you make the Midlands a tourist destination when coast and the Upstate lakes are the state's main draws?
"With the university and state government, you already have business travelers. That's why it's crucial to expand the convention center," Prosser said. "You want to give people a reason to add a day or two to their itineraries.
"You might get them to go to Lake Murray," he said. "And we need to look at new attractions, like the African-American heritage (corridor), which would be a real positive for South Carolina."
So how do these ideas become reality?
These projects will have to come about locally. PRT is not funding them but is providing a blueprint based on discussion with local officials.
"Having consensus on the strategy is the first step," Prosser said. "Then we work with the local governments and local business community to make these things happen."
Shouldn't local groups come up with these plans?
Prosser said the proposals for boosting tourism being developed for eight regions across the state are "not meant to replace or override the authority of any group."
"We have worked closely with (local officials) all along the way," he said.
Still there are some differences in what's being proposed.
In Columbia, the city has a riverfront plan in the Vista. The PRT study suggests a location - Olympia - a few miles away. The PRT consultant said the report just showed a bigger-picture concept of what could be developed on the waterfront.