Locals reap benefits of tourism tax

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The tourism initiative is in its third year here on the Grand Strand. It is an unprecedented investment into tourism and is largely funded by the one percent tourism tax added to hotels, restaurants, and retail.

Brad Dean, the President and CEO of Myrtle Beach Area Chamber, says taxes go beyond tourism promotions and are aimed to enhance the quality of life for residents who share these beaches year round.

"Tourism taxes end up in schools, law enforcement, in other places of South Carolina. It also helps to keep property taxes low and that benefits all the residents of the Grand Strand and the Palmetto State," says Dean.

According to economists at Coastal Carolina University, occupancy rates are up 1.1 percent this year, an increase that some say reflects the success of the tourism tax.

The Myrtle Beach Chamber hopes that by increasing the value of Myrtle Beach tourism, people will spend more money in the area.

Taylor Damonte, Director of the Brittan Center for Resort Tourism at CCU, says that the investment of advertising and in attractions is paying off and is apparent in our lodging prices.

"We're able to increase price on our lodging product by about 5.5 percent, year to date. Nation-wide, lodging prices went up by about 4 percent," explains Damonte.

That is a 35 percent price increase in our area compared to the national market. Damonte says this means not only are more people coming to the Grand Strand, but they are also willing to spend more money and the demand for this area is growing.

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