Accommodations taxes will pay county's WestJet debt

Horry County - (WMBF) The Horry County Council decided today to pay Westjet Airlines the roughly $570,000 it owes them through accommodations tax funds. These are funds generated from visitors staying at local hotels, campgrounds and lodges.

In February, the county made a deal with the airline. It agreed to pay up to one million dollars if the airline couldn't maintain a 15% profit margin during it's first six months at MYR. Recent Westjet Airline numbers show they fell short.

The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce says it will help the county pay the debt. The chamber already had $250,000 aside for the county in funding the state provides from the taxes.  The chamber says it has an agreement to give the county five percent of the accommodations tax funding to the county for marketing tourism. The remainder of the money will also come from the Chamber. The Chamber says it will front the money it expects to receive from future accommodations tax funding from the state.

"The chamber is in the business of advertising and marketing and that's what this was," says County Council Chairman, Mark Lazarus. "This was advertising and marketing and investment to bring new people to the area and we accomplished that."

The county says its currently in pre-liminary negotiations with Westjet for future service to Myrtle Beach.