MYR discusses direct flights to China in midst of Chinese tourism push

MYR discusses direct flights to China in midst of Chinese tourism push

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - In light the conversation surrounding Chinese tourism in recent weeks, officials at Myrtle Beach International Airport were asked to look into the possibility of an airline offering direct flights from Myrtle Beach to China.

The short answer- airport officials don't expect any airline carrier to sign on for flights to and from MYR any time soon, simply because there are not enough people flying here from china.

There has been a huge push to get more Chinese tourists. 

The Myrtle Beach mayor and president of the Chamber of Commerce recently made a trip to China to attract Chinese travel and tour operators to bring tourists to the Grand Strand. So, the MYR Airport Advisory Committee asked if the airport could accommodate something like direct flights to-and-from China.

The airport did a study on Chinese visitors to major metropolitan areas. Myrtle Beach ranked 179 for the most incoming Chinese visitors in the country.

"The whole discussion then started looking at those destinations that have direct Chinese airfare," said Chuck Martino, Chairman of the MYR Airport Advisory Committee.

Only the 11 cities with the greatest number of Chinese travelers have direct flights. Even airports at places like Orlando and Las Vegas do not have direct flights.

About one person, every other day, travels between Myrtle Beach and China daily, which is nowhere near enough for an airline carrier to service a direct flight.

"We are able to handle direct flights of any international airlines that come in, it's just the likelihood that it's suddenly going to jump from .44 passengers per day to 250 each direction, or 500 passengers a day for an airline to bring a flight in, is probably not likely near term,” Martino said.

This doesn't mean the plans to get more Chinese tourists have hit a snag at all, It simply means passengers will still have to connect at airports like Atlanta to get to Myrtle Beach.

Copyright 2014 WMBF News. All rights reserved.