Hurricane Irene impacts the Grand Strand's tourism industry

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF)- Hurricane Irene may not have impacted the Grand Strand too severely weather-wise, but it has taken its toll on our economy.

Hotels say it hurts to have one of the last few weeks of the summer washed away by Hurricane Irene. Between hotel and flight cancellations, some say the Grand Strand missed out on one of the last chances to get a financial bonus before the off season starts.

Lauren Morris with Myrtle Beach International Airport says, "We had about 50-100 cancellations over a 3 day period." The airport had seen record breaking numbers of people coming through its doors. The airport was on pace to reach the 1 million passenger mark, but Hurricane Irene could affect that goal. And they are not the only ones feeling the storm's impact.

Stephen Greene with the Myrtle Beach Hospitality Association says, "We're looking at a 20-30% loss overall…for three days, that's a fairly big drop."

But Labor Day weekend did help gain back some of the loss. Greene adds, "We saw an uptick. Businesses and hotels told us they rescheduled especially those who were driving in were coming back the following weekend. Hopefully that will make up a little bit but obviously it won't cover the entire damage done by Irene."

The Downtown Redevelopment Corporation says the people who were already here along the Grand Strand flocked to the beach the weekend of the storm. Dave Sebok with the DRC says, "People came downtown…they came to see what the waves were like-storm watching…so economically the businesses were ok-people were still down here."

The DRC says while Irene hurt some businesses, it also helped city leaders by giving them a better idea of when to take down signs and how long the process will take.

Copyright 2011 WMBF News. All rights reserved.