MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce wants to see where the Grand Strand stands in the world of tourism, which is why it surveyed visitors to see what can be done to improve their experience.
The survey began in June and ended in August of this year. It's different from other recent surveys because it was conducted by a company that specializes in measuring visitor experiences in tourist destinations.
The survey compared our visitors' experiences to those of other communities, and was handed out to 40,000 visitors.
The Chamber wanted a wide variety, so members had the survey distributed in downtown Myrtle Beach, in hotels along the Grand Strand to Garden City and to people who ride with the Coast RTA.
The Chamber says those surveyed desperately want to see an interstate, due to the traffic on 501.
A lot of visitors also say they want to see the Grand Strand become more walkable, bikeable, and have more activities and events.
"The good news is the visitors enjoy the Grand Strand, but they've given us some very important feedback about how we can make our experience even better," Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce President Brad Dean said.
In recent years, we've gone from 12 million visitors to 18 and a half million annual visitors.
But to take that to the next level, the Chamber says tourism is the core of our economy, so the city must keep in touch with our visitors' experiences and expectations so they can keep coming back.
More sidewalks were added through the Ride Two and Ride Three projects, so the Chamber says it will look to do more for pedestrians.
Dean says while infrastructure can take years, there is a suggestion they can address immediately: bringing in new activities to reinvent the destination.
"That doesn't just mean bringing new businesses and attractions, it's also a reminder to existing businesses that we have to refresh the image and repertoire - who we are and what we offer to create a continued sense of excitement throughout the Grand Strand," Dean said.
For right now, the Chamber wants to figure out what they can accomplish short term.
But they also plan to weave some of the visitors' requests into long-term plans, in particular, when they're looking for redevelopment areas.