MYRTLE BEACH — Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Brad Dean told the City Council on Tuesday that the tourism initiative has been pivotal in tapping new markets and bringing tourists to the Myrtle Beach area.
This investment is showing huge dividends not only to Myrtle Beach, but the whole Grand Strand, Dean said.
Dean estimates that advertising paid for by a penny sales tax will result in more than $20 million in total revenue for Myrtle Beach.
Taylor Damonte, with the Clay Brittain Jr. Center for Resort Tourism at Coastal Carolina University, backed up Deans claim by saying that Myrtle Beach broke the all-time record for total hospitality tax revenues this year with a 6.3 percent increase. He said that there are about 217 resort units hotel rooms or condos rented per week in Horry County.
Thats about a 50 unit increase from last year, Damonte said. The increase has been mostly in the condo product.
Myrtle Beach spokesman Mark Kruea said he was pleased with the numbers presented Tuesday by the chamber.
The measurement tools that we have show that the tourism development field is working well, Kruea said.
Kruea added that business activity in Myrtle Beach could have its third straight record-breaking year.
It will be another month or two before we get a good summer number comparison, but we are up 6 percent over last year, which was a record, he said.
When Councilman Philip Render asked Damonte if the council should continue to invest in infrastructure and advertising, Damonte was very clear in his response.
That investment in addition to the advertisement will, over the next few years, attract more [tourists], he said.
One of the major goals of the advertising initiative was to attract more first-time visitors to the Myrtle Beach area and to try and attract people from different areas of the country. About 34 percent of those who visited within the last year were coming to Myrtle Beach for the first time, according to the chamber.
About one in three of all people visiting Myrtle Beach were first-time visitors, said Scott Schult, executive vice president of marketing for the chamber. That is an end result of that execution.
Schult said the majority of tourists continue to hail from New York, but Dean said the chamber is more aggressively marketing Myrtle Beach in other large metropolitan areas to try and lure first-time visitors.
The market with the biggest growth of incoming visitors was New Orleans, while Los Angeles finally cracked the top 12.
We have to find a way to reach out and tap new markets, Schult said.
One tool the chamber uses to reach new markets is visitmyrtlebeach.com. Fifty-seven percent of all advertising by the chamber is digital, and Dean says the website has become the best way for people to look at Myrtle Beach. Dean told the council that it is the 116th most visited travel website in the country, ahead of other competing markets such as Orlando and Virginia Beach.
Dean also spoke about the 60 miles in 60 days project the chamber has planned for September as it moves into the fall.
Its really just a creative way to show people you can have a great time in Myrtle Beach and along the Grand Strand, Dean said about the project.
The chamber also plans to host a group of bloggers in hopes of garnering good reviews and said the Travel Channel will be filming the Boardwalk Aug. 31 through Sept. 2 during the Beach Boogie and BBQ Festival.
We believe the Boardwalk is going to get some much-needed national attention, Dean said.
Contact BILLY CROSBY at 626-0310.