MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Brad Dean, president of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, was in Washington, D.C. on Thursday. Dean addressed the state of tourism on the Grand Strand and across the country, bringing national attention to what it will take to bring more people to our area.
Brad Dean was one of four tourism experts at the meeting. The hearing was focused on tourism in America and the status of the industry. Dean says tourism is a lot better now than a few years ago, however, there's still a lot of progress to be made.
Dean spent much of his time speaking about Myrtle Beach and the influx of nearly 15 million people traveling to the area each year, a place that only has about 30,000 permanent residents.
Dean told committee members, including South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, that in recent years, tourism is growing, but the need for Congress to keep Brand USA is still pertinent.
Brand USA is a national advertising campaign to bring international travelers to the U.S.
"When it comes to Brand USA, I would say two simple words, 'Thank you', and if you permit me two more [words] ... please reauthorize," said Dean.
The program started back in 2010 and expires next year. Dean says it's proven to work, adding it helped bring more flights from Canada to Myrtle Beach.
"Brand USA doesn't cost the taxpayers anything. It's been a great public-private partnership that's generating huge returns on investment," Dean said. "Where it helps the Grand Strand is during our slower times of the year, by creating jobs in the spring and fall. Some Canadians are buying property so that creates a bigger revenue stream for our community," he added.
While the hearing Thursday was mainly focused on tourism, Dean also took advantage of the opportunity to talk to senators about other issues affecting South Carolina and the Grand Strand.
This was the president's first time testifying before a Senate committee. In other words, this opportunity is rare. Dean said he wanted to make the most of this opportunity to have the eyes and the ears of senators in a public setting.
Tune in to WMBF News today beginning at 4 p.m. for reports from Washington D.C. on the outcome of Thursday's meeting.