Myrtle Beach sports tourism numbers down by millions

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Sports tourism is down by millions of dollars in Myrtle Beach, while other areas are seeing an increase in their numbers.

Myrtle Beach city leaders say sports tourism was down $29 million in 2017. In 2016, the sports tourism industry brought in $187 million. That number dropped to $158 million last year.

North Myrtle Beach spokesman Pat Dowling said the city saw higher sports tourism numbers in 2017 than in the past.

He says part of the reason for this is contractual events, which provide more stability because the same event will sign a five-year contract with the city.

Like Myrtle Beach, Dowling said they could see numbers fluctuate in the future because some events change where they're going each year.

Although North Myrtle Beach's numbers are up and Myrtle Beach is down, the Myrtle Beach Sports Center's general manager, Jessica Vanco, said events are not being taken away.

"We actually partner with North Myrtle Beach. Some of our events need their gym space so we've kept a really good relationship with North Myrtle Beach and, believe it or not, a lot of the teams that do compete in North Myrtle Beach actually stay in Myrtle Beach city limits. So I think we're seeing a positive effect for each city," Vanco said.

Myrtle Beach city leaders said several factors led to the decrease in sports tourism last year, including the construction of new facilities, renovations at Doug Shaw Stadium, world tournaments, and the consolidation of cheer and dance competitions.

Vanco said their facility saw a $7 million decrease this past year.

"2015/2016 our economic impact at the sports center was $31 million. This past fiscal year we're just coming off of it was about 27," she said. "You have these events that move, like a world archery event or a regional gymnastics event. They don't want to go to the same place every time. They move in a circuit every three years, four years, or eight years.

In 2016, the world archery event came to Myrtle Beach, bringing in 5,000 archers from all over the world.

"The good news is … in 2021 we're working to bring back the tournament and it will have double the archers. So when we have that event come back, the impact will be $12 million in three days, which is outstanding," she said.

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