New data shows tourism dropping across Grand Strand compared to 2019

Tourists lounge at the beach by the hotels in downtown Myrtle Beach.
Tourists lounge at the beach by the hotels in downtown Myrtle Beach.(WMBF News)
Updated: Jul. 26, 2020 at 10:30 AM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - When hotel restrictions were first lifted ahead of Memorial Day, many people in the hospitality business said they weren’t exactly sure what kind of summer would be in store.

Research from Coastal Carolina University proves that point, showing a sharp decrease compared to the same exact week in 2019.

Data from the Clay Brittian Jr. Center for Resort Tourism shows hotel occupancy is down across Horry and Georgetown counties. The newly-released numbers for the week of July 12-18 show compared to the same week last year, fewer people are booking hotel rooms or staying in short-term rentals or campsites.

The data does not account for those staying with friends who live along the Grand Strand or are just coming for the day.

For the middle of the week in 2019 hotels averaged at 87% occupancy. For the same week this year, occupancy saw a drop to just over 57%.

Weekend numbers, while higher, are also still lower than those seen in 2019. Data shows a 97% occupancy in 2019, compared to 80% this year.

Stephen Lyster said he’s visiting Myrtle Beach with his family from Indianapolis, Indiana, and has been coming for years. He added that he’s also noticed the drop in other visitors in the area.

“Usually when we’re down here it’s completely packed, and it’s usually pretty crazy down here. But not this year,” said Lyster.

Lyster also said hearing about Myrtle Beach being designated a hot spot for coronavirus didn’t scare them away, but he noticed people here were less strict with wearing masks.

To read the full study from CCU, click here.

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