Businesses and tourists call Labor Day weekend a win heading into shoulder season

Businesses and tourists call Labor Day weekend a win heading into shoulder season

. - MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – As the Myrtle Beach area's peak tourism season drew to a close and businesses prepared for a last push before the end of summer 2016, Hurricane Hermine threatened to thwart plans for vacationers and businesses alike.

Business owners and tourists said, for a moment, the outlook looked bleak; Hermine brought rain, wind and dashed hopes for the weekend.

As it turned out, business owners said when the storm cleared people had not changed their plans, bringing what could be the biggest Labor Day weekend ever in Myrtle Beach.

"We were lucky," said Buzz Plyler, owner of the Gay Dolphin Gift Cove. "We had a fantastic weekend. People came in great numbers, probably the greatest crowd I've seen since the 60, 70 years that I've been here. Saturday came back with a vengeance. We had a great day."

It was  sentiment shared not only by businesses, but by the customers they served.

"Oh, it brightened up real lovely the next day," agreed tourist Cornell Stevens. "We cooked on the grill and everything."

The pleasant weather was a welcome gift for travelers hoping for sunshine during the three-day-weekend.

"I didn't think it was going to be as many people down here as I thought," Stevens said. "We came on Fourth Of July weekend also. It was about the same amount, same amount of people, same crowd."

Even on Monday, Ocean Boulevard and the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk were packed with people taking pictures.

While Labor Day weekend is typically the end of the summer rush, there has been a big push in the last few years to stir up tourism during the fall months.

The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce's "60 More Days of Summer" campaign officially kicked off in 2014.

Those 60 days begin the day after Labor Day, with 2016 being the third year the chamber has pushed the campaign.

Fall is a time of year coveted by locals, as the crowds die down but the temperatures stay warm, and the chamber counts on this to appeal to potential visitors.

An ad, new in 2016, is being pushed on social media and will be broadcast on channels regionally, telling the tale of sunny days extending summer for 60 days in Myrtle Beach.

Ask business owners and many say it is working.

"Every year it seems to be that there are more first-time visitors to Myrtle Beach," Plyer said. "As I stop and talk to every customer that I can, it used to be that less than 3 percent of people had never been to Myrtle Beach before. Now I'm seeing 50 percent of the people have never been to Myrtle Beach."

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