MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Hotel occupancy numbers along the Grand Strand are going up as we head into the fourth of July holiday weekend, but this year there is another reason people are making their way to the Carolina coast.
About 35 million Americans are expected to travel this holiday weekend, marking a 17 percent increase from last year, according to AAA. Some Myrtle Beach hotel owners are saying the Gulf Oil spill is having a positive impact on the Grand Strand.
"We've seen probably three or four hundred inquiries to our business in the last month," Carnivale Motor Inn owner Ferrell Schmidt said. "We're averaging 15 or so calls a day."
Currently the first three weeks in July are booked and Schmidt is calling this summer the best one he has seen in two years. But he isn't the only one who is seeing an increase in business.
"I'm loving it," Palms maintenance worker Chris Wells said. "The economy needs it. It filled our hotel up for about two weeks straight."
Wells says he is seeing mostly Floridians.
Florida and the Gulf Coast are Myrtle Beach's top competitors when it comes to tourism, according to the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.
"They're saying South Carolina is a lot different from Florida, but it's still beautiful and they're just happy to be on vacation," Wells said.
"You hate to benefit from anybody else's hardships but it certainly has been a shot in the arm for the area," Schmidt said.