MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - New occupancy rates from Coastal Carolina University show that summer tourism is up in the Grand Strand, and businesses that count on tourists are seeing that boost.
Huffman Helicopters survives on tourists with more than 90 percent of its business coming from visitors. President Jeremy Bass says this summer he's seen a steady increase.
"April, May - it was a little busier than last year, but that second week of June was really the strong point where it really hit and it hit hard, and it's been consistent," Bass said. "Forty percent up from the same days last year day by day."
People have been lining up to take a ride in one of the eight helicopters Huffman whisks riders away in to give them a birds eye view of the Grand Strand. Bass says the improved business is also allowing him to offer more jobs and assist those who need the work.
"[There are] a lot of people out here hurting, and of course we try to help out everybody in the area that we can, and this has allowed us to do a lot more of that," Bass explained.
Tourists are also filling lines on the ground, as well, according to Ronnie Powell, who rents mopeds off Ocean Boulevard.
"I've had to have lines in front of my Tiki hut booth," Powell commented. "I've had to have people wait and get paperwork done."
Powell hopes business only gets better with the economy and so does James Stephens of Iggy's on the Boardwalk. Stephens attributes his increased dessert and snack sales to the city's new landmark.
"Building the Boardwalk and what the city's done to bring entertainment down here, that's been a big part of it I think," Stephens said.