Myrtle Beach 2020 tourism report highlights pandemic’s impact on industry

Updated: Apr. 6, 2021 at 8:23 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The Myrtle Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau released its 2020 annual report on Tuesday, shedding a light on the impact the pandemic had on the tourism industry last year.

“We’re not used to seeing a downward arrow in tourism, we’re used to seeing some nice modest growth year over year,” Karen Riordan, the CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, said.

The numbers were down across the board for 2020, but Riordan said the impact wasn’t as bad as they thought it would be.

The report shows in 2020, Horry County brought in $11.4 billion in gross retail sales, which is a 7% drop compared to 2019.

The average occupancy at hotels and other short-term rentals last year was 42%. That’s down 27% from the previous year.

“To see the number downs certainly was discouraging and paints a picture of just how difficult it was for businesses last year,” Riordan said.

In response to the pandemic, last year the chamber launched its Ready, Set, Go Tourism Recovery Marketing campaign.

The goal was to keep Myrtle Beach top of mind as a destination for visitors when they felt comfortable traveling again.

Officials continue to use the strategy for recovery this year.

“Research also tells us when you don’t keep something top of mind, it takes much more money to get back onto somebody’s Facebook feed,” she said.

Despite the pandemic, Riordan said there were positives in 2020.

They achieved their goal of having more than a third of new visitors to the area.

Myrtle Beach was also renamed a top searched destination for vacations.

Riordan said what the report really shows is the perseverance from businesses and the community.

“We worked together to actually build back some of those visitors back and they did come back towards the end of the year and we expect even more in 2021,” she said.

Copyright 2021 WMBF. All rights reserved.