MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce has put the tourism industry in the Grand Strand to the test.
A survey consisting of 60 to 70 questions was given to people who both work in the tourism industry and those who don't. It was based on current attractions and tourism trends along the Grand Strand.
Overall, the Grand Strand tested in a very positive light.
The survey reportedly revealed the area has a great base for tourism, with its beaches and numerous golf courses. However, Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce President Brad Dean said the efforts to bring more people to the area need to be modified.
"We've grown substantially in recent years, from 12 million visitors to 17 million visitors. But the way we get to the next level, to 20 million visitors, is by growing differently," Dean said.
To find those areas of expansion, the chamber partnered with Destination Next. A survey went out to those inside and outside the tourism and hospitality industry and the results highlighted exactly what the area needs.
Paul Ouimet, managing director with Destination Next.revealed the results of the survey Tuesday to a group of community leaders and members.
"There should be additional food opportunities, culinary tourism. There was also a lot of support for more arts and cultural attractions. The amphitheater came up a number of times," Ouimet said.
Another factor popping up in the survey was the need for more year-round visitors. That means attracting business groups and convention-style events.
However, Ouimet said the biggest thing the survey exposed is the need for better public transportation and a direct link to the Grand Strand.
"There are so many different destinations which have good access. You really need to have that link to be competitive in the future," Ouimet said. "I do assessments all over the United States and I can't think of any other project in this country that is more deserving," he added.
Though the importance of Interstate 73 is no surprise to Dean, the way it popped up in the survey was.
Dean said he found it very reaffirming.
Ouimet told the group Tuesday if all of the changes are made, it could lead to endless opportunity.
"The takeaway would be, if the community focuses on the some of the things that I've just raised, then there is an opportunity to even increase the opportunities for tourism," he said.
This assessment also surveyed millennials to find out what concepts could improve the Grand Strand in the future, as opposed to simply the present. This is something Dean said will help build a long-term tourism plan.