Two South Carolina cities got a much-needed boost Tuesday when Condé Nast Traveler magazine announced they were among the 10 best small cities in the United States.
For the 10th straight year, Charleston was named the nation’s best, while Greenville made the list at No. 6. It was the fourth year for Greenville and an increase from the No. 9 spot in 2018 and 2019. In 2017, the Upstate city ranked third.
Nearby Savannah was ranked seventh.
“Our place on this prestigious list will hasten our economic recovery,” Greenville Mayor Knox White said in a news release.
The shutdown of businesses in the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic hurt cities across the country. Greenville hotels have seen business drop by two-thirds, according to the city of Greenville.
“In the first two months of the pandemic alone, the overall financial impact in the Charleston area exceeded $1 billion due to lost spending in hospitality and tourism,” Michael Tall, chairman of Explore Charleston’s Board of Governors, said in a news release. “Due to the continuing uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 it is not currently feasible to produce a forecast with any confidence.”
He called the losses to the travel and hospitality industry staggering.
Despite troubles in the tourism industry this year,Condé Nast received so many responses to its survey on favorite travel destinations that the lists were broken into cities with populations of more than and less than 250,000.
The magazine said the results were especially interesting since they reflect memories of a place rather than a recent visit.
The magazine said, “Charleston may be a small town, but this city punches well above its weight.”
Condé Nast listed history, culture, food and charm as Charleston’s top qualities and noted “visitors are rarely prepared for the city’s good looks. Stately homes, cobblestone streets, waterfront views, and an abundance of flowering window boxes only add to its welcoming vibe.”
Tall, of Charleston’s tourism board, said, “As we safely welcome back visitors with the genuine hospitality synonymous with the Charleston region, it’s wonderful to know that the area’s illustrious accommodations, breathtaking waterways, vast outdoor experiences, world-renowned cuisine, and authentic history continue to resonate with travelers in such a powerful way.”
The magazine described Greenville as a secret on the “the cusp of stardom.” It called attention to Greenville’s growing food scene and Falls Park, the 32 acre-park in the heart of downtown Greenville.
White said in a news release, “One of Greenville’s greatest strengths is its natural beauty, walkability and urban greenspace.”
The No. 2 spot on the small-city list was Santa Fe, New Mexico; followed by Carmel-by-the Sea and Laguna Beach, both in California; Alexandria, Virginia; Aspen, Colorado; Savannah, Georgia; Jackson Hole, Wyoming; and Key West, Florida.
The top 10 big cities were Chicago; Washington, D.C.; Boston; New Orleans; San Antonio; New York; San Diego; Nashville; Tucson; and St. Petersburg, Florida.