Oil spill could bring more tourists to SC

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – According to some Myrtle Beach hotel owners, it appears people who originally planned to spend their summer vacations on the Gulf Coast are now considering Myrtle Beach as an alternative, thanks to a recent oil spill.

"We had one phone call where someone had canceled. They were going to the Florida panhandle and they were wanting to know what we had [in Myrtle Beach]. They specifically mentioned that," said Carnival Motor Inn owner Ferrell Schmidt.

Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce President Brad Dean says he's received more of the same inquiries.

"We've received dozens of calls and emails because we're advertising in many of those markets where visitors think about Grand Strand or Gulf Coast.  Our name is out and this could be a positive time for tourism for the summer," said Dean.

How positive? He says that's up to the tourists. "I can't imagine them going down [to the Gulf Coast] now," said one tourist.

"I don't think it's going to be a dramatic effect, but I believe that it will help us to some extent. I'd say we might see as much as a 10 percent increase," said Schmidt.

"[It's] hard to pin point the numbers right now. It's a critical time for summer tourism, and a lot of people making their decision on where they're going to go for the summer, how much and how far. We'll have to wait and see," said Dean.

Dean says he's even received a call from someone wondering if we're seeing oil in our ocean. So far, he says there have been no reports.

Vacationer Marge Morsk says she hasn't seen anything. "And we were on two boat trips out on the ocean," she said.

A lot of people living and working in Myrtle Beach hope it stays that way.

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