Unwelcome economic news has abounded for the last six months or so across our community, state, nation and globe. Its intensifying impact in South Carolina was painfully plain with the announcement that the major-highway “Welcome Centers” just inside our state’s borders are being closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Motorists can still use the centers’ restroom facilities and vending machines on those days. But the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism will no longer have personnel on site to dispense travel advice, maps and brochures. An agency official told The State newspaper that the closings were made necessary by layoffs of about 40 temporary workers, which were caused by budget cuts.
The tough belt-tightening decisions imposed on other state-funded entities, including public schools and prisons, are bad enough. Now our genteel Palmetto State tradition of Southern hospitality has been undermined by this cruel recession.
Because the folks driving into our state can no longer enjoy the full benefits of those state-operated centers on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, we South Carolinians must find other gracious ways to remind our guests that they’re still quite welcome here. Smile and say hello.