Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Midlands visitors should get a glimpse of the city while on the roadways, but some are being blindsided by litter.
"We like to not see litter in the Midlands," said Ric Luber with the Midlands Authority for Convention Sports and Tourism. "Every visitor gets an impression of the community and if it's clean, it's probably safe. If it's clean and safe a visitor will come back."
Luber says three million people visited the Midlands last year. He wants tourists to view the attractions of the city, not the distractions on the streets.
"It's also an important thing for our local economy because of tourism, which is a billion dollar industry," said Luber. "If people aren't coming here because the city isn't clean we're losing dollars for everyone in the community."
Jacqueline Buck, executive director of Keep the Midlands Beautiful, encourages everyone to be part of the solution. "It can be businesses, it can be church groups, we have a lot of college fraternities that do it. You find a local street that you'd like to adopt and go out and do your cleanup."
Buck says that in 2011, volunteers cleared more than 180,000 pounds of trash from roadsides in Richland and Lexington counties.
"You know we see it all over on our main ingress and egress bigger highways," said Buck.
Keep the Midlands Beautiful sponsors ecofriendly initiatives like 'Adopt-a-Highway' where volunteers claim a two-mile stretch and are responsible for clearing the trash.
"It's no different if you walk across your living room and pick something up off the floor," said Luber. "You pick it up and put it on the table. If everyone in the community picked up the litter, we wouldn't see it at all."