One of the great things about living in a tourist area is the additional number and breadth of amenities and conveniences that are available here because of the tourists.
Our island is relatively small in population, and were it not for tourists, it would certainly have fewer shops, restaurants, and services. Many of our businesses do the largest part of their business during the three months of summer and during a handful of spring and fall weekends. This means, from a local standpoint, that we get to enjoy their businesses and services that they otherwise might not be able to offer our smaller-sized area. Especially nice, in my opinion, is the access to those businesses and services in the off-season, without the crowds.
There are several businesses that cater almost exclusively to tourists, which is nice because it allows the employees and owners of the businesses to work and live here on the island. For example, most Carolina islands, even the smaller ones, have multiple rental agencies that specialize in finding beach rental properties for tourists. This is a substantial part of the employment on the island. Beach rental properties, by the way, also benefit many second-home owners, who can alleviate much of the cost of owning the home by renting it out.
Another thing that has increased in popularity over the last few years is the beach wedding. In the last year alone, I think I have witnessed five weddings from my deck. Every time, they are absolutely beautiful. Thereâ€™s just something so uplifting about stepping out onto your deck to enjoy a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and finding that, in addition to the expansive ocean views you were expecting, thereâ€™s a wedding in progress that you were not expecting to be able to witness. All that crisp white, and beach weddings seem to incorporate even more white than more traditional weddings, up against the backdrop of the sand and the ocean blues and greens, is really quite dramatic. In retrospect, I wish I had considered a beach wedding myself. Who knows? Maybe someday, one of the small people will choose to have a wedding in front of our house. Iâ€™m getting goose-bumps just thinking about it.
At any rate, beach weddings bring with them a number of jobs. There are the wedding coordinators, sometimes even on staff at the local rental agencies, the photographers, the bakery and caterers, the florists, the decorators, and even the clergy. And while these are services that I donâ€™t use with the same frequency that I do the shops and restaurants, there are some, like the bakeries, the florists, and the photographers, that I do use on occasion for smaller things. This affords us some of the conveniences that otherwise would not be as prevelant in towns of our size.
I have to digress for a moment here to share with you what happened at a wedding I witnessed a year or so ago. The wedding was in the evening, shortly before sunset.Â Apparently the wedding couple had not factored in that it would be high tide at the time of their service, because they ended up so pressed for space after they made several rows of chairs for the audience, that the minister stood in the ocean to conduct the service. Fortunately, it was a semi-casual wedding, and he was wearing shorts. Midway through the service, however, all of a sudden the ministerâ€™s knees buckled and he started pitching backward and to one side. A couple of groomsmen grabbed him before he hit the water. The minister passed out cold! The groomsmen had to carry him up the shore where Iâ€™m assuming (I couldnâ€™t see this part from my vantage point) they made attempts to revive him. It took several minutes, to the point where I was beginning to get concerned, not just for him, but for the wedding couple. On a small island on a Saturday night, how easy would it be to find another minister to complete the nuptials if this guy was down for the count? Happily, he eventually revived, and the wedding continued uneventfully from there on.
Another nice thing about our touristy locale is that, when visitors come to stay with us, we have many activities to do, like boating trips, mini golf, various aquatic animal facilities, and small museums with island history, to name a few. Also, if our visitors need bikes, paddleboats, kayaks, surf boards, kite boards, fishing gear, you name it, within five minutes I can have them at a rental facility, picking out their equipment of choice. These are things you donâ€™t use every day, but when you do need them, it sure is convenient to have them at your disposal.
So, while there are moments when the sheer volume of tourists can get overwhelming, I am greatly appreciative of what they bring to our island. And it is fun to watch them experience for the first time what is commonplace for me. Thereâ€™s a sign Iâ€™ve seen many times here (which probably can be found at beaches worldwide) that says, â€œHeavenâ€™s a little closer in a house by the sea.â€ When I see the look on touristsâ€™ faces as they first step out onto the sand, their eyes riveted by the ocean, their ears filled with the sound of crashing waves, soaking the whole of it in, they remind me of that sign and the truth behind it. I am, indeed, most thankful for the reminder the tourists bring.