Myrtle Beach Tourism Business Exceeds Expectations
Tourism in the Myrtle Beach, S.C., area is finishing up stronger than expected for July, with average weekly occupancy at its highest level since 2005, according to the Clay Brittain Jr. Center for Resort Tourism at Coastal Carolina University.
About 97% of the rooms at the Strand’s hotels, condo-hotels and campgrounds were full last weekend, and the same is expected for this weekend, said Taylor Damonte, the center’s director.
“It’s a little higher than what we expected a month ago when we were studying these weeks,” he said.
The study’s data come from a voluntary sample of about 100,000 bedroom equivalents among the area’s hotels, condo-hotels and campgrounds, according to the Myrtle Beach Sun News.
Officials credit the high occupancy to discounts on rooms that lure cost-conscious travelers and an increased marketing campaign by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. Still, tourism promoters aren’t celebrating just yet, as jobless rates remain high and the overall economy still struggles.
Lance Thompson, general manager of Ocean Lakes Family Campground, said July has been sold out.
“All along, we’ve been expecting and anticipating a really, really strong summer season,” he said of the campground, which has 900 sites for families and small groups.
Thompson’s main concern was how unemployment might affect the business’s clientele.
“I knew that some of the folks that had made reservations, if they’d experienced job losses, they would call and have to cancel,” he said. “Fortunately, we haven’t seen a lot of that, and for those spots that did open, they were filled up immediately.”
The chamber is encouraged by the “modest uptick in occupancy rates,” said Brad Dean, president of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.
“These recent signs are very positive amidst an otherwise doom and gloom forecast, but we’re not out of the woods yet,” he said. “We’re cautiously optimistic about the next few months, but it’s too soon to know if we’re on the rebound. Fall travel tends to be far more discretionary than summer travel.”