MYRTLE BEACH — Lodging reservations for the Harley-Davidson rally, with early arrivers expected this weekend, are coming in softer than a year ago, according to Coastal Carolina University’s Clay Brittain Jr. Center for Resort Tourism.
Average lodging occupancy for hotels, condotels and campsites this weekend is expected to hit about 58 percent. Average occupancy for vacation rental properties, which rent for a week starting on Saturdays, is expected to hit 55 percent, down 10 occupancy points or 15 percent from the same week a year ago.
Next weekend, the rally’s peak, also is expected to be down with average lodging occupancy for the beach expected to hit between 68 percent and 73 percent, down from the 76 percent occupancy during the peak Harley-Davidson rally weekend last year, CCU’s Taylor Damonte said.
The cool and rainy weather recently, which cleared up a few days ago, might be keeping some bikers from booking until the last minute, some lodging properties said.
Bookings at Ocean Lakes Family Campground are down a tad this week compared to the same week a year ago, but next week’s reservations are up a little, spokeswoman Barb Krumm said. She expects more last-minute and walk-in traffic from bikers who might have been holding off because of the weather.
“We see it trending up,” she said earlier this week. “This week is still yet to be determined. I think it is going to be a weather thing.”
Lodging may be down, but vendor permits are up.
Lisa Bourcier, Horry County spokeswoman, said via email the county issued 75 vendor permits by late Friday afternoon. That’s up from 65 issued in 2012.
Fifteen vendor permits went to the Myrtle Beach Speedway, which is returning to host bike rally events this year after a long hiatus.
Revenue generated from the vendor permits is approximately $54,900.
The Harley-Davidson rally runs through May 19.
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