Columbia's tourism bureau wants the South Carolina Statehouse open for tours every Saturday to boost tourism, and is asking the State House Committee to make that happen. Now, the Statehouse is open only on weekdays and the first Saturday of each month.
"If you traveled any distance at all, you would be very disappointed in the fact that you spent that time to see something that you really wanted to record in your experience and not have that opportunity to see it," says John Gamble, of Knoxville, Tennessee. He and his wife Gail toured the Statehouse Thursday afternoon. He recently retired, which allowed them to take the tour on a weekday. Otherwise, he says, they would have come on Saturday and been disappointed that it was closed.
But opening the Statehouse every Saturday would cost taxpayers money. The state Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism estimates it would cost about $6,500 a year.
The Statehouse used to be open for tours every Saturday after extensive renovations were finished in 1998, but the number of Saturdays was later cut to one a month to save money.
The Midlands Authority for Conventions, Sports, and Tourism is the group asking for the additional tours.
The State House Committee, which oversees the Statehouse building and grounds, is made up of five members of the state House and five state senators. Members wanted more specific information about costs and staffing before making a decision.