By William K. Wolfrum,
When it comes to economic trends, it seems Myrtle Beach is still one of the great untouchable golf destinations on the planet. Because while many economic factors - including a housing slump and an influx of hotel rooms - made many tourism experts feel pessimistic about the summer of 2007, things turned out much better than many could have hoped.
The tourism season on the Grand Strand started slowly in May, picking up just slightly in June and July. It was August, however, where many Myrtle Beach businesses saw numbers go through the roof.
"We've had a really strong August - the strongest month of our summer," Beth Nathan, a spokeswoman for the South Carolina aquarium, told the Associated Press.
One significant factor appears to have boost numbers in 2007 - a later than usual start for public schools in the Carolinas. Many schools did not open until the third week of August, giving many families extra time to schedule vacations, and giving tourism business a needed shot in the arm.
"The later school start definitely lengthened the summer season," Brad Dean, executive director of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, told the AP. "There has certainly been more people visiting the Grand Strand in August and the length of stay has increased."
Other factors that helped boost tourism numbers included a steadying of gas prices, good weather and a slow hurricane season. Another factor is the increased marketing of Myrtle Beach vacations by the chamber of commerce. A total of $7.5 million was pushed into the marketing of Grand Strand tourism, including a $2.5-million grant from the state of South Carolina. The end result was that Myrtle Beach saw substantial growth in the area of new visitors.
Still, overall, the growth was widely spread out among a large group of hotels, condos and other spots in Myrtle Beach, showing city officials that they still need to push the envelope to draw more visitors to the area.
"We did well this summer, but for those [businesses] who aren't seeing that growth, it means we've got a lot more room to grow to fill those hotel rooms," Dean told the Myrtle Beach Sun.
A couple other factors have kept Myrtle Beach tourism from reaching its full potential in 2007. This was the first vacation season on the Grand Strand in 58 years without the Myrtle Beach Pavilion Amusement Park, which closed last year. And nearby Darlington no longer hosts a NASCAR race on Labor Day, an event that would bring literally thousands of tourists into the Carolinas, with Myrtle Beach always getting its fair share of the run off.
September 10, 2007
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management. The information in this story was accurate at the time of publication. All contact information, directions and prices should be confirmed directly with the golf course or resort before making reservations and/or travel plans.