Tourism plan highlights areas away from the beach

Myrtle Beach, SC - By Mark Meredith - bio | email

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - As the summer season approaches, hundreds of tourists are expected to arrive in the Grand Strand. A new tourism plan is suggesting to highlight the area's attractions away from the sun and the sand.

"What we're finding out is that the modern day vacationer is looking for what's called 'Beach Plus,'" said Peter Mac Nulty, managing director for Tourism Development International.

Mac Nulty, along with a team of other tourism analysts, have spent the past year traveling across the Palmetto State looking for new areas for tourism growth.

"People want the beach plus good outdoor activities," said Mac Nulty.

On Monday, TDI and the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism presented the research in a meeting of community business leaders.

"There are many things that can draw visitors and enhance their experience," said Chad Prosser, director of SCPRT. "We've got to get them out to other areas like Georgetown and Conway, where we have historic towns."

The 100-page proposal suggests that through creative marketing efforts, the traditional vacation destination like Myrtle Beach can also offer something unique to help draw in visitors. The presentation highlighted Conway's riverfront, as well as the seafood options available in Murrells Inlet and Little River.

The Grand Strand, 60 miles of beaches from Georgetown to the North Carolina coast, are the heart of the state's $18 billion tourism industry.

The presentation, while comprehensive, does not set out where the funds for the marketing project would come from. State and local leaders will have to set out to determine if and by how much the different proposals should be handheld.

The plan also calls for development at the old Myrtle Beach Pavilion and envisions pedestrian walkways and landscaped areas on Kings Highway, the four-lane highway several blocks off the beach.

The plan by Tourism Development International also suggests a Prince George Harbor with hotels and a marina at the Georgetown steel site.

In addition to the Grand Strand plan, there is talk of a tourist railroad on the Lowcountry coast. The Beaufort Gazette reported Tuesday that Beaufort County will seek proposals from companies interested in restoring the rail line between Port Royal and Yemassee.

The county has plans for a walking and bike trail along the right of way owned by the Beaufort-Jasper Water & Sewer Authority. The authority will determine how much the tracks might be worth to salvage companies.

Yemassee was once a busy rail junction and already is planning to renovate its station. During the first half of the 20th century, an estimated half-million Marine recruits heading for Parris Island passed through the hamlet.

Copyright 2010 WMBF News. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.