MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - While beach goers and vacationers keep hotels and restaurants busy during the summer tourist season along the coast, sports tourism continues to grow during the quieter winter months.
The Winter Bump Volleyball Classic kicked off Friday night and play began Saturday morning. Larry Church, the assistant director of the Grand Strand Juniors club who’s hosting the tournament says 288 teams came out to the event and because of the large turnout, teams played in many locations throughout Myrtle Beach including the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, Myrtle Beach Sports Center, Pepper Geddings Recreation Center, Crabtree Gym and the Canal Street Gym.
“You know, when we first started, we were actually traveling to Charlotte for events, Atlanta for events, and all over the Southeast and it was one of those things where we really wanted to do something at home. And when it first started it was ‘we can make this happen’ and because I’m from Myrtle Beach, I went to Myrtle Beach High School, I love it here, and we thought ‘if we love it this much, why not everybody else?" Church says.
He says the attractions Myrtle Beach offers rivals many other cities where tournaments are commonly hosted.
“Hotels, food, shopping.... all those things and so people like to come to Myrtle Beach people want to be here no matter what time of the year it is and have a great time.”
And many visitors at the tournament agree.
“There’s so much to do outside of here so when we leave there’s great resturants to hit, we can go to Barefoot Landing we’re staying close to which is nice, go to the boardwalk on the beach,” says Heather Mansfield, who traveled from Apex, North Carolina.
Some local businesses had tables at the tournament on Saturday.
Jacob Simmons owns Eternal Wave in Surfside Beach. He said events like this help boost sales during slower months.
“January is one of our slower months being a surf shop so anytime you can get some exposure with eyes on your product on your name is obviously going to be super beneficial,” Simmons says.
The City of Myrtle Beach says in a report about their 2019 fiscal year, the Myrtle Beach Sports Center brought in an estimated 23.9 million dollars in direct spending to the city.
In order to continue to bring more sports events like the Winter Bump into the City of Myrtle Beach, the report says the city brought in a Sales and Marketing manager to continue to promote the city and the growing sports tourism industry.
Come spring time the report says they want to bring more track and field events to venues in Myrtle Beach.