Boulevard businesses have mixed reviews on ‘hot’ start to summer tourist season

Boulevard businesses have mixed reviews on ‘hot’ start to summer tourist season

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Data released shows Myrtle Beach tourist season could be off to a hot start, but some businesses along Ocean Boulevard say they’re still in the shade.

According to numbers from Coastal Carolina University’s Tourism Economic Study, nearly 8% more visitors filled up area hotels this past May compared to May 2018. But not all “Boulevard businesses” are feeling the heat.

“I’ve noticed a slight decline in foot traffic," said David Durst, who has worked on Ocean Boulevard for close to 15 years.

Durst cites many reasons for a slow start to a traditionally busy season, but said the chief among his complaints are parking headaches.

“I’ve always had a thing about the parking, I think it’s a big deterrent. And there’s plenty other things to do in the city," Durst said.

The start to the hot season could be described as lukewarm for some, while others are flaming hot.

“Yesterday we had our best day in over 30 years, so we’re thrilled," said Michelle Kercher, manager at the Gay Dolphin.

Kercher said she’s noticed a spike in families through the first leg of the “100 Days of Summer,” a crucial time of the year for Boulevard-based businesses.

“July and August are the busiest times of year for sure," Kercher said. "The 100 days of summer are times you can’t replace with any other time.”

Numbers from the Myrtle Beach Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, support a fast start to the summer tourist season.

This chart - shows a jump in area rental occupancy this past April compared to the same time last year.
This chart - shows a jump in area rental occupancy this past April compared to the same time last year. (Source: MBCVB)

This chart shows a jump in area rental occupancy this past April compared to the same time last year.

While foot traffic may seem slow now for some businesses, managers say it’s not how the season starts, but how it finishes.

“We’re confident that the business will pick back up when we need it," said Shane Rowan, manager at Nightmare Haunted House. "We just try to staff ourselves as much as we need for when it does get busy.”

Copyright 2019 WMBF. All rights reserved.