Myrtle Beach parking numbers show spike in tourists

Myrtle Beach, SC - MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - New parking numbers indicate more tourists have visited Myrtle Beach in 2010.

The Downtown Redevelopment Corporation released the latest parking data Wednesday, which they say maintains the increased revenues they have seen all summer long.

Downtown Redevelopment Corporation Executive Director David Sebok said many parking meters now have a pay-by-phone option, which allows drivers to pay for parking by sending their credit card information over the phone. They can even add more money to the meter without be at the meter physically.

Sebok also said the new addition of pay stations this season, which allow visitors to use credit cards and cash on site to pay for parking, are more customer friendly.

"This is probably more efficient," Myrtle Beach resident Lynn Willitt said, after using one of the stations. "And it doesn't clutter up the streets with a lot of extra equipment."

Sebok said they have installed the pay stations wherever possible, though he admitted they are not as conducive to paralleled street parking because of the distance visitors have to walk. Nonetheless, Sebok said the DRC constantly looks for new places where pay stations will work.

"I think most people these days use debit cards for most transactions, so in a lot of ways I think that will be simpler than the traditional parking meters," commented driver Sherry Simonson.

Sebok said that while they are efficient, the new stations have run into a few glitches.

"Sometimes the paper receipts - with the humidity and rain - will sometimes cause the machines to jam," he admitted, but then added that they are wired to alert the parking company when any jam or other malfunction occurs.

Regardless of where visitors go to pay, meters all over the beach have been raking in the cash this summer. Sebok says revenue is up 17 to 20 percent overall from what they pulled in last year.

In some cases, he says it even exceeds last year's projections by 70 to 80 percent.

"That to us is an indication that there are more people visiting downtown because the rates haven't changed, the hours haven't changed, the number of meters hasn't really changed," Sebok said.

With more than $200,000 brought in by visitors in the month of July alone, parking revenue in Myrtle Beach is far from chump change in 2010.

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