Economic impact of a hurricane on the Grand Strand

WMBF Storm Team (WMBF) Tourism drives the economy along the Grand Strand, and businesses like hotels depend on visitors to keep running.  So when tropical weather impacts the Grand Strand, those hotels really take a hit.

"Generally hurricanes come anytime from July, August, September and those are very good rate periods for us so the impact is severe," says Lee Rawcliffe, the CEO of Sands Resorts.

Ray Harter, the General Manager of the Anderson Ocean Club and Best Western Carolinian says the cost is tough to estimate. "I don't think there's a firm cost because you've got a lot of intangibles that occur and as the storms approaching you're going to have people slow down, the reservation process slows down and you're going to have cancellations, you're going to have early departures."

Sometimes visitors fly into Myrtle Beach and when an evacuation is issued, they are unable to get out due to the airport closing.  Lee Rawcliffe says he tries to keep his hotels open for that reason and move visitors to interior rooms.

Evacuating hotels can have a longer lasting economic impact even after the storm is gone.  Sometimes visitors don't come back for a number of reasons or it takes business a little while to pick back up.

"When people are asked to leave the hotel it can have a long standing effect.  It can have a situation where people will just not come back for the fear of hurricanes coming back, regardless of what the damage may or may not have been," says Ray Harter.

Lee Rawcliffe agrees.  "There can be a longer lasting impact and that's generally more relative to the strength of the storm, how much damage was done and to what extent that was publicized. "

Hotels make sure any damage done is cleaned up quickly so visitors can return as soon as possible and so that their employees can get back to work, hoping to make up for the all the time and money that was lost.

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