Weekend violence already affecting Myrtle Beach tourism

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - After last weekend's violence, Brad Dean with the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber says he's never seen a response like this before. There's been steady flow of phone calls, emails and social media posts from not only people with reservations already booked, but from people who are moving to the area.

Most are wanting to know what's going to be done to solve the violence, while other visitors are trying to move their reservations to a different section within the city, away from anywhere near where the shootings took place. Dean says Chamber employees are going out of their way to make sure that people know Myrtle Beach is usually safe and inviting to tourists, and that this was an isolated problem.

Another real concern is about the potential tourists who are on the fence about visiting. Before the Memorial Day weekend shootings, Myrtle Beach received several national accolades for being a top tourist destination -- including just this week when the city was named as the most affordable destination for this summer. Plus, the chamber kicked off a television campaign running in 100 different cities.

Now the focus is on getting past the negative headlines that are spreading nationwide.

"We're hopeful that it's not going to keep us from having a good summer," Dean said. "But if we as a community aren't serious about solving these problems, we can expect to deal with it year in and year out."

Word of the shootings has definitely spread. When you search "Myrtle Beach" on Google, the seemingly endless headlines pop up detailing the eight shootings from this past weekend. Everyone seems to have heard about this past weekend's violence.

"Everybody, it's the first thing they said to us when we told them we were coming," said Melinda Stringer from Indiana.

It's how people are reacting to the news that seems to be all across the scale. Most tourists along Ocean Boulevard say at this point, it doesn't completely change their view of Myrtle Beach, and they still plan on visiting every year.

But some hotels are feeling the heat of the recent national headlines. WMBF News talked to hotel manager Ray Booth who manages several properties, including the Bermuda Sands Motel, where the deadliest of the shootings took place. He says there were a few reservation cancellations at the motel because people saw the news and decided to pick another city for a vacation. There have also been cancellations at other hotels.

Dean expressed that if this issue isn't properly addressed, then it could have long-term impact on our economy. Yet some tourists still feel like the incident won't have a lasting negative impact on the city.

"I don't want to sound like I'm nonchalant about things happening," explained Valerie Daniel, visiting from North Carolina. "But they do happen, and I feel like people will still come back to Myrtle Beach."

"Well it might," said Stringer. "But you know, people still go to Indianapolis."

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