Law allows hotels to turn down locals

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The Carolina Country Music Festival is expected to draw thousands of people not only from out of town, but also from the Grand Strand and Pee Dee.

In preparing for the four-day event, many neighbors were surprised to find out some hotels have policies against renting to locals.

"I think as a citizen of this town you should be able to stay in the hotels and you're adding to the economy, so there shouldn't be a reason to not allow it," said Justin Arms.

WMBF News checked in with 10 hotels located on Ocean Boulevard. Only three of them allowed locals to rent rooms.

"The reason hotels do not rent to locals is because of previous problems in the past," said Renee Wickstrom, the director of communications for the Better Business Bureau.

In 1994 the Lodging Establishment Act was created, allowing hotels to turn away locals. Wickstrom explains the reason is to keep all guests safe.

"You're on a vacation, you're living here, grandma and grandpa, all your aunts and uncles come over to visit, then you have 20 people in the room and you have fire codes, and it's a safety issue. So, many hotels choose not to rent to locals because it is a safety issue," she said.

According to the Lodging Establishment Act, hotels are allowed to use their discretion when deciding who to rent rooms to, but they cannot discriminate.

"Whether it's race, gender, marital status, age, there's a list in the innkeepers' law. As long as a guest is not being discriminated against based on those factors, then the hotel has the resources to decide who they're going to rent to and who they're not going to rent to," Wickstrom said.

She added that those who are from the area and trying to a rent a hotel room, it's better to do it over the phone or in person instead of using a third-party site since some of those sites aren't aware of the policies many local hotels have.

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