Tourism expected to stay steady during fall season

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - We may be well past the summer season, but that does not mean our tourism-based economy is taking a hit. Myrtle Beach is seeing a strong tourist season continue into the fall.

FlipKey, a TripAdvisor vacation rental website, rates Myrtle Beach one of the top five destinations for fall season destinations because of the great location and great deals.

FlipKey's findings are based on the nightly price for properties on their site. And their data shows that travelers can save up to 43 percent on a vacation rental property when visiting Myrtle Beach during the fall. Their average prices show around $100 per night in the fall, compared to $180 or more during the summer season. And this proves true with condo rentals as well, where you can see as much as $1,000 slashed from the monthly prices.

Hotel managers and rental agents that WMBF spoke with say that their bookings are much stronger compared to this time last year. And that they are above their normal reservations pace going into next moth as well.

"This Fall, we have seen an increase in rentals," says Melody Burr, Elliot Realty Beach Rentals. "There's been more families coming down for weekend stays. We have more monthly renters coming in, the snow birds that come from up north to enjoy the great weather. And we also have more golfers. So it's been a great fall so far. They do love the great prices. The prices are fantastic and they go right along with that beautiful weather that we have in the fall season."

And all the festivals we have this season really keep the tourism momentum going through the fall. And hotel managers and booking agents do not expect to see a drop off. The general manager for the Hampton Inn & Suites along Ocean Boulevard says that they have lots of groups making large reservations in December for a lot of shows that will be in town. And all condos and hotels are already getting calls for booking the summer of 2015.

City leaders believe that an extra emphasis on out-of-state advertising has boosted our fall tourist season. Part of the penny tax is dedicated to advertisements that encourage vacations during the months of September, October and November. Since 2009, city leaders say Myrtle Beach has seen a steady increase in tourism. On top of that, Mark Kruea with the city of Myrtle Beach says that this Fall compared to last Fall, the city is seeing nearly a 10 percent boost in occupancy rates. And Dr. Taylor Damonte, a Resort Tourism Expert at CCU, agrees with that.

"Occupancy is growing compared to what we've seen last year at this time," says Damonte. "So I suspect that most businesses are a little busier than they were during previous years this time of year."

Experts believe that the fall season is the one that builds your solid tourist base. Since things are a bit slower, staff can devote more time to serving people, so then they get a better experience, leave extremely impressed, and book again.

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