Summer tourism numbers show increase over 2012

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The summer tourism season in the Grand Strand is just a few weeks from its end, and numbers are showing a better year than 2012.

Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR) recently announced this past June was one the airport's best. Compared to June of last year, there were 12,000 more passengers who flew into MYR, and most of them were visitors.

According to Coastal Carolina University's most recent survey, the number of people staying in hotels is also greater than in 2012, but not by much. Bookings were up nearly two percent since Memorial Day weekend compared to the same period in 2012. Managers say despite the small jump, things are looking up.

"Business seems to be very strong," said Donald Hovis with the Springmaid Beach Resort. "Getting a lot of last minute bookings. We do have some availability still but the weekends have been sold out in August for many months."

But the weather has dampened things this season. Since Memorial Day weekend, the Grand Strand has had almost 39 rainy days. That number is almost an entire week more of rain than last year. According to the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, even though the summer numbers show more visitors are coming to the Grand Strand, the wet weather had lasting effects.

Outdoor businesses are feeling the pinch, and managers say the wetter-than-usual season weakened numbers. But it has pushed business indoors. Folks with indoor attractions say it has definitely helped numbers. A local movie theater reported having its best day in five years on one rainy day last month. Even with the differences, there's still hope the weather will spread the wealth to all businesses. Managers with outdoor businesses say they still have a goal to meet the numbers they need to have a successful year.

"I still see that we're crowded," said Meghan Kelly with Lack's Beach Service. "People are still renting. I think the next few weeks will be really good."

Experts say over the next few weeks, the number of visitors in town will start to taper off, due to area schools starting back up for the year.

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