HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Horry County Council's decision Tuesday night on a beach tent ban could have a big effect on a large part of the beach. The county is responsible for about 14 miles of beaches along the Grand Strand.
If council decides to ban the tents, it will be one of the last in the area to make the decision. North Myrtle Beach made the first move towards this decision, by banning tents from May 15 through September 15. The City of Myrtle Beach voted to not allow tents on the beach from Memorial Day through Labor day.
On Tuesday, Horry County could do things differently, by considering banning tents all year round within the county.
While everyone seems to be handling the bans in separate ways, the main reason is all the same up and down the beach: it's for safety. Even so, tourists don't fully understand why Grand Strand cities are making these changes.
"I can see probably the reason for entering into this discussion," said Erin Hill, who is visiting the Grand Strand for the first time. "Which is they take up a lot of space, but I think people take up a lot of space with their towels and their boogie boards. But skin cancer is a problem in this country."
The third and final vote will be at 6 p.m. at the county council meeting. The second reading of the ban was passed by a vote of 10 to 1 on April 1.
How will tent bans be enforced?
Now that beach tent bans have been passed, the big question now will be how to enforce it. We're exactly one month away from the first beach tent ban going into effect. Tourists tell WMBF News they want plenty of warning about the new rule before they get here.
"If I booked a place on the beach and found out I couldn't use a tent, that would be a problem," said Hill.
At this point, it's all about the notification process as more crowds flock to the beach. In Myrtle Beach, the city is putting up 250 informational tent ban signs around the beach, and will hand out flyers. In North Myrtle Beach, the city plans to change the signs, and 25,000 magnets with info on the new ban will be sent out to hotels and rental houses. Since this is such a big change, the focus in the beginning will be making sure everyone is aware of the new rules.
Locals feel actually enforcing the ban will be the toughest part of the process.
"I don't know if they're going to be able to enforce it," explained surf Instructor Jack Hannigan. "Honestly, it's hard to let everyone know that you can't have a tent."
In the beginning of the ban, both Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle beach plan on giving friendly "reminders" or "warnings" to those who bring beach tents. Then based on how people respond, citations will be given out to those who don't comply.