Horry County sees 13% spike in hotel occupancy despite rising gas prices
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - The effects of tourism season are already starting to be felt across the Grand Strand.
Data from the Myrtle Beach Convention and Visitor’s Bureau shows hotel occupancy is up more than 10% this week compared to last.
Occupancy rates aren’t the only thing on the rise, however, as gas prices continue to climb nationwide.
“I didn’t want to get gas right now,” said Fuquon Conner, who paid $4.49 per gallon for premium gas for his truck on Friday. “Not at all, but I needed gas. I’ve got my daughter with me, I need to get home.”
Conner only loaded up on $20 worth of gas to make it home, because a full tank of premium for his truck would probably cost him in the triple digits right now.
That may be enough to get him back home, but it certainly wouldn’t cover him for his upcoming trip back to New Jersey.
When asked how high gas would have to get to cut his travel entirely, Connor said “any more than it is right now.”
“This right here is high,” he added.
Businessowners like Victor Shamah, who owns Duffy’s in downtown Myrtle Beach, count on folks like Conner who travel by car to their vacation destinations.
Shamah said those folks make up much of his business during the busy season.
“About 80% of our tourists come here by car or they rent a car when they’re here,” Shamah said. “It could be an impact on business if they can’t get control of it.”
Meanwhile, Myrtle Beach International Airport is still scheduling flights in preparation for what could be another record-breaking season.
A spokesperson for the airport said the number of flights this summer should be about the same last year, and those flights may be even more full this time around with many seating restrictions being lifted across several airlines.
They also said MYR is still researching the impact the increasing gas prices may have - but they aren’t expecting any drastic changes to fare prices at the moment.
As for Conner, he’s hoping it comes back down so he can make it up to see his family in New Jersey.
“Hopefully they can get this thing over with, done, that’s it,” he said.
The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce says, historically, higher gas prices than normal have not led to a decline in tourism numbers because of Myrtle Beach’s easy access to millions of people.
Gas Buddy is reporting prices have gone up 40 cents since Valentine’s Day, so it’s yet to be seen if that’s still the case this year.
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