MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Luggage is still on the carousel at the Myrtle Beach International Airport, but new numbers show there's less travelers taking to the skies than there have been in years past.
"We're down this year," said Director of Airports Mike La Pier. "I'd say we're down 15, maybe 14% from last year."
La Pier says there isn't a single explanation for the dip in passengers, but rather several different things, including a lack of flights coming in.
"There's almost a one-for-one comparison from the number of seats available to the number of passengers we're down this year."
But numbers from the Coastal Carolina University Brittain Center for Resort Tourism shows hotel rates are up slightly from July of last year, showing it isn't a lack of tourists into the area that's causing the decrease. Rather, visitors are finding different ways into Myrtle Beach.
Some flights have canceled routes to Myrtle Beach, and Direct Air, which closed its doors in March, represented about 10% of the total number of seats flying in and out of Myrtle Beach. There are new carriers to pick up the slack, but La Pier says it will be some time before those percentages rise again.
"Our cyclical nature has a lot to do with the number of seats we have," La Pier said. "Our goal this year is to make sure we have that capacity next year."