Data shows pandemic impact on Grand Strand tourism-related tax revenues

Data shows pandemic impact on Grand Strand tourism-related tax revenues
Open sign on side of a business. (Tourism has taken a big hit this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.) (Source: WMBF)

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Tourism has taken a big hit this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now we’re finding out just how much revenue some local governments have lost.

Horry County and North Myrtle Beach recently provided WMBF News with monthly data on Hospitality and Accommodations Tax revenues so far for 2020.

North Myrtle Beach was poised for a record-breaking year for tourism-related tax revenue, according to the spokesperson for the city of North Myrtle Beach, Pat Dowling.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic brought the tourism industry to a halt.

Data provided by the City of North Myrtle Beach shows the city saw year-over-year increases for the first two months of 2020 in accommodations tax revenue and three months in hospitality tax.

Hospitality tax in North Myrtle Beach is collected on food and amusements.

The city says it brought in $26,361 more in Accommodations Taxes this past January than it did in January 2019, a 14.8% increase year-over-year.

Hospitality tax revenue for the city also saw a 9% increase in January, bringing in more than $20,000 than the previous year.

However that all changed as the coronavirus hit in March. May was the hardest hit month for the city.

It saw a nearly 90% drop in accommodations tax revenue that month, bringing in $343,029 less than May 2019.

Hospitality taxes also saw the greatest decrease in May, with a $437,926 drop, just over 70% less than last year.

In total accommodations and hospitality tax revenue for the city has so far dropped more than $2.5 million, compared to last year.

Tourism tax revenue collected in unincorporated parts of Horry County did not start out as strong as North Myrtle Beach and only got worse.

April saw the most severe drops for the county, bringing in less than 10% of the accommodations tax revenue it saw in 2019 and 67.31% less in taxes due to hospitality revenue.

Data provided by Horry County shows a downturn nearly every month so far this year with the exception of September.

During that month, the county saw increases in hospitality and accommodations tax revenue by 10.68% and 5.45% respectively.

In total the county has lost more than $1.9 million in accommodations and hospitality tax revenue collected in the unincorporated part of the county this year, compared to last.

North Myrtle Beach 2020 tax revenue data
North Myrtle Beach 2020 tax revenue data (Source: WMBF News)
North Myrtle Beach 2020 tax revenue data
North Myrtle Beach 2020 tax revenue data (Source: WMBF News created these graphs using data provided by the City of North Myrtle Beach.)

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