New Year’s holiday fueling busy winter weekend in Myrtle Beach area

dbryant@thesunnews.comDecember 28, 2012 

Revelers turning New Year’s into a long holiday weekend are expected to boost business at Grand Strand hotels and lodging providers this weekend.

Occupancy at hotels, condo-hotels and campsites is predicted to hit 54 percent Friday and Saturday night – compared to 19.3 percent a week earlier Dec. 21 and Dec. 22 – then jumping to 68 percent Sunday and Monday, with New Year’s Day falling on Tuesday.

“That’s a big weekend,” city spokesman Mark Kruea said.

More than half of vacation rental properties in Horry and Georgetown counties – 56.1 percent – are reserved for the week of Dec. 29 through Jan. 4, up 30.2 occupancy points compared to the same period last year, when New Year’s Day fell on a Sunday, according to Coastal Carolina University’s Clay Brittain Jr. Center for Resort Tourism.

The New Year’s holiday is fueling the increase as revelers stretch out the holiday into the weekend, officials said.

“With Jan. 1 falling on Tuesday next week, the New Year’s Day holiday potentially allows would-be vacationers to pair one unpaid day off [Monday] with what is commonly a New Year’s Day holiday and create for themselves a four-day holiday weekend,” CCU’s Taylor Damonte said in his weekly email predicting the next week’s lodging occupancy. “Vacation rental property reservations for the seven-day period beginning Saturday, Dec. 29, also reflect a dramatic increase in occupancy compared to the New Year’s period last year.”

Many businesses are throwing New Year’s parties, though Myrtle Beach hasn’t had a block-party-style New Year’s celebration since part of Ocean Boulevard closed for the countdown to 2010.

A year ago, businesses – especially those along Ocean Boulevard and the boardwalk in Myrtle Beach – experienced an unexpected rush of revelers around Christmas and New Year’s, with temperatures warmer than usual for the winter.

Downtown and Myrtle Beach officials have expressed interest in a New Year’s street party, but nothing has come together for this year. And nothing is set yet to ring in 2014.

“December is just a little bit on the edge when it comes to planning a nighttime, outdoor event,” Kruea said. “But certainly we’ve seen that people like to come to Myrtle Beach for the holiday.”

The Oceanfront Merchants Association sponsored a “Holidays on the Boardwalk” this winter, and officials have had early talks about adding a New Year’s party in coming years, said Dave Sebok of Myrtle Beach’s Downtown Redevelopment Corp.

“There’s some potential for something to happen,” he said.

Contact DAWN BRYANT at 626-0296 or at dbryant@thesunnews.com or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_dawnbryant.

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