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Event aims to boost May business

Published: Jan. 27, 2011 at 11:16 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 31, 2011 at 2:01 PM EST
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Coastal Uncorked event supporters say they are hoping Paula Deen's May visit to the Grand...
Coastal Uncorked event supporters say they are hoping Paula Deen's May visit to the Grand Strand will help sell vacations.
"We have people from all over the country contacting us about Paula Deen tickets," Candace...
"We have people from all over the country contacting us about Paula Deen tickets," Candace Howell, Executive Director of Coastal Uncorked said.

By Jennifer Grove - bio | email

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - As Coastal Uncorked Food and Wine Festival organizers announce their 2011 ticket launch Thursday, many businesses are waiting to see what the event will do for their bottom lines come May.

From her own cooking show to her own merchandise line, Paula Deen is a celebrity that sells. Now Coastal Uncorked event supporters say they are hoping her May visit to the Grand Strand will help sell vacations.

"Oh I definitely think so," Mayor John Rhodes said. "I think her following is strong."

"We have people from all over the country contacting us about Paula Deen tickets," Candace Howell, Executive Director of Coastal Uncorked said. "We really can't get them on sale fast enough; everyone's really excited. It's definitely going to bring people into Myrtle Beach and it's definitely going to put heads in beds."

Not all businesses are convinced, however.

"So far I haven't had many people inquire about May at all," Summer Winds Inn & Suites Manager Gail Smith said.

Three years ago, Smith says that was a different story.  "Oh we were booked solid," she shared.

With the loss of the bike rallies and a tough economy, Smith is anxious to see rooms fill up, but she's is not convinced newer May events like Coastal Uncorked will do the trick.

"Not many people are coming to those events because they know the bike weeks are here still possibly," she said.  "They're still afraid if the biker weeks come, they don't want to be here."

Even still, she is holding out hope.

"I mean, if they try to get different events in here maybe something might come up and more people will attach to it," she admitted.

"Be patient and let's see how things go," Mayor Rhodes encouraged.

With a celebrity like Paula Deen and seven days of events, Coastal Uncorked organizers are convinced they will play their part to boost beach business in May.

"They're coming," Howell said confidently. "They're going to have a good time. They're going to spend their money in our community and help out the businesses here and help our economy."

Howell says they understand area business' desire to see more new visitors make their way to the coast during May.

"The locals are great, they always support us and we love them for that," Howell shared. "But we do of course want to bring people in to Myrtle Beach. That's what this town is all about. It's about tourism. We want to make sure we get people here to spend their money with the hotels, with the retailers, and with the restaurants."

Howell says to do that they have worked with area hotels to build accommodations packages around the tickets, around the tasting trolleys as well as other festival events to make sure that people are coming in from out of market.

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