MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce started a new initiative that includes a commitment to growing tourism dollars in the area.
It's called the Grand Strand 2020 initiative, which highlights a set of goals and expectations of what tourism officials want to accomplish over the next five years to lure more people to the Grand Strand year-round.
With more visitors spending their vacation time in the Myrtle Beach area, the hope is some of those people will want to live here after visiting. Those who relocate would ultimately bring new businesses, which in turn would create more jobs.
Susan Phillips, director of the marketing for the MBACC, said the Grand Strand 2020 initiative looks to, among other things, increase group room nights, which is being helped by sports tourism.
"We're also getting ready to reach a milestone of one million deplanements at the Myrtle Beach International Airport," Phillips said.
One thing officials said would lead to an influx of visitors once it becomes a a reality is Interstate 73, a highway project that has been in the works for a while.
"I-73 will definitely help," Phillips said. "It's not going to be very quickly, but that's going to bring more visitation in."
More tourists is what one local business owner wants to keep seeing for his business.
"We've noticed an increase in numbers from last year to this year ,so we've definitely noticed a high number of people coming to the beach and enjoying the area," said Daniel Becker, general manager of ART Burger and Sushi.
More than 17 million visitors come to the area each year, but the target will now be 20 million.
"At the end of the day - this will be by 2020 - we're trying to reach $8 billion," Phillips said.
Tourism officials said travel and tourism is so important to the destination that higher goals have to continually be set.
"We know the people, when they come and visit here and like it, they're going to look at possibly retiring here, relocating here or maybe even investing in the area, which is good for our quality of life for all Myrtle Beach citizens," Phillips said.
City leaders said this is not only the chamber of commerce's goal, but one that should be supported by the community. With everyone collaborating and pulling together, city leaders believed Myrtle Beach will surpass all goals set for 2020.