Theres one thing Grand Strand businesses can look forward to during the slow winter off-season: three-day holiday weekends like this one.
Lodging occupancy, which typically hovers in the 20 percent range this time of year, is expected to jump to 40 percent this weekend as travelers take advantage of the extra day off work Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Its a three-day weekend, the first three-day weekend of 2014 and it does have an impact, said Taylor Damonte of Coastal Carolina Universitys Clay Brittain Jr. Center for Resort Tourism, which tracks the local tourism industry.
The 40 percent occupancy expected this weekend is still a far cry from warmer-weather crowds, but more visitors than the beach has seen in the past few weeks. Lodging occupancy last weekend was 24 percent, according to CCU.
For the past six weeks, from Dec. 1 to Jan. 11, lodging occupancy averaged 25 percent.
Visitation will drop back to winter norms next week until another off-season surge during the long Presidents Day weekend in mid-February, which is also the weekend of Valentines Day and the Myrtle Beach Marathon, which attracts hundreds of runners.
The calendar is working for us, Damonte said, referring to Valentines Day and Presidents Day falling on the same weekend, Friday and Monday respectively. That would be our next strongest [weekend].