MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The number of travelers flying into the Myrtle Beach International Airport for 2014 is predicted to be near-record numbers. The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce says the success of the airport could play a significant role in attracting more airline carriers to the Grand Strand.
Susan Phillips, Director of Marketing for the MBACC said they are constantly working with airline carriers, perspective and existing, to add more services to MYR.
"The three of us in partnership, the airport, the Golf Holidays, and the Chamber work very extensively behind the scenes with all sort of airlines, not only our existing airlines, but perspective airlines, trying to get them to take a look at us and bring us new service," explained Phillips.
Phillips told WMBF, recently Spirit Airlines added non-stop flights from Cleveland, Ohio to Myrtle Beach, and she said these type of flight services, along with promotion deals and lower airfares, are what will attract tourists during summer months, and more importantly, in the off-season.
"When an airlines announces new services, we immediately go in and saturate that market as much as we can with new advertising, and new materials, offering promotion deals, and the new airfares because typically they'll offer low airfares to start off with, but to also tell them about the beauty of coming to Myrtle Beach," Phillips said.
That advertising will come in all platforms from TV advertisements to local media outlets, to internet deals.
"What happens is when we work with an airline to fill up those flights, we get more airlines that are interested in us," Phillips said. "They see we are successful, and in turn that could mean financial success for them too."
Phillips added we will not see more airline carriers land overnight.
"This is a process that will take time, possibly years, because an airline doesn't just have a lot of airplanes sitting in a hangar, waiting to bring them out," she said.
But Phillips explained what will help speed up the process is when airlines see that a market is performing well with another carrier, like Myrtle Beach. "They start paying attention to it, and that's when the negotiations tend to move a lot quicker."
More non-stop flights, and more flights could open up the floor to more jobs in the Grand Strand, according to the MBACC. "We have so many people that have not visited here before, with new non-stop flights, that gives them the opportunity to come here, which in turn creates additional jobs for the area and it continues to grow our economic base," Phillips elaborated.
People are more open to travel to Myrtle Beach if the city offers non-stop service. Phillips said a lot times the places people are coming from usually are a 10 to 12 hour drive. The convenience to catch a flight for an hour an hour and a half is a bonus for them.
"They can travel inexpensively, and also bring their families they're so excited about that," said Phillips.
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