Local governments, lodging working quickly to notify visitors of new beach tent laws

mprabhu@thesunnews.comApril 26, 2014 

STEVE JESSMORE — The Sun News Buy Photo

  • What you need to know:

    Horry County’s beach tent ban took effect April 16.

    There is also a beach tent ban from May 15 to Sept. 15 in North Myrtle Beach and a ban from Memorial Day to Labor Day in Myrtle Beach.

    Horry County

    Shading devices, other than circular umbrellas with a circular shade no greater than 7 feet, 6 inches in diameter, shall not be allowed on the beach. This includes, but is not limited to, tents, tarps, cabanas, pavilions, sports-brellas, or similar devices, or any material mounted on supports. An umbrella is defined as a collapsible circular shade consisting of a natural or synthetic fabric shade stretched over hinged ribs radiating from a central pole without grounding lines or ropes. All shading devices are prohibited from being tied, bound, joined, or connected in any manner, but otherwise shall be secured in such fashion to restrict uncontrolled movement of the device.

    Myrtle Beach

    Shading devices, other than circular umbrellas with a diameter of 7 feet, 6 inches or less, shall not be allowed on the beach between Memorial Day through Labor Day.

    Violation: Verbal warning; According to Mark Kruea, spokesman for Myrtle Beach, the court has set $262 as the fine, for a tent violation, which includes court costs.

    North Myrtle Beach

    Only umbrellas with a center pole no more than 7 feet six inches in height, and with a circular canopy no more than 9 feet in diameter are allowed on the beach May 15-Sept. 15.

    Violation: Verbal warning; if necessary, a misdemeanor charge, which is up to a $500 fine and/or up to 30 days in jail.

Resorts, campgrounds and local governments are working quickly to do what they can to inform those traveling to the area that they shouldn’t bring their beach tents with them.

Beach access signs, magnets, fliers and newsletters are among the things that Horry County, Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach are using to let people know that tents no longer are allowed on the beach.

Changes to the law came shortly before the beginning of the busy summer tourism season, leaving little time for governments and businesses to get the word out.

Horry County has banned tents on county beaches year round. The ban took effect April 16. North Myrtle Beach banned the canopy-style tents from May 15 to Sept. 15 and use is banned in Myrtle Beach from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

North Myrtle Beach spokesman Pat Dowling said the city ordered 150 replacements for its oceanfront street end signs that will be in place by the time the ban takes effect, costing a total of $15,000. The signs cost $100 each, he said.

Myrtle Beach spokesman Mark Kruea said the city ordered 250 signs for the beach accesses letting beachgoers know about the change to the law, costing a total of $2,000. Each sign cost $8, Kruea said.

Each year North Myrtle Beach prints refrigerator magnets with important beach laws on them. This year the city printed 25,000 – including the new tent rules – to be distributed to condo rentals and hotel rooms.

Additionally, Dowling said the city paid about $200 to send press releases to news distribution sites, and he said he’s seen the ban get publicized in several media outlets in areas from which the city gets tourists.

“Before they get to their hotel – we hope – the [booking agency] will have informed them about the ban,” Dowling said. “When they get to their hotel room, they’ll see the magnet on the refrigerator. And then when they go to the beach they’ll see the signage. … We’ve gone above and beyond launching an extensive out-of-the-area campaign to let folks know.”

North Myrtle Beach, Myrtle Beach and Horry County all are working with the Myrtle Beach Area Hospitality Association and local chambers of commerce to spread the word to hoteliers and businesses.

“We’re working with our member hotel properties so they know what’s available to them,” hospitality association President and CEO Stephen Greene said about the fliers, brochures, magnets and other forms of information that’s been produced. “And the rules are different depending upon where you are.”

There are several hundred lodging members in the hospitality association located along the Grand Strand, Greene said.

“We’re trying as best we can to get the word out … so someone doesn’t drag a tent out there and find out they can’t have it,” he said.

Pirateland Family Camping Resort rental manager Vickie Carmody said staff has shared information on the campground’s Facebook page and the in-house cable channel as well as distributed an information sheet to its employees and guests. Pirateland is in Horry County’s jurisdiction, where the ban already is in effect.

“We’ll probably do some signage close to the beach,” she said Thursday. “We’re talking about that now.”

Barb Krumm, spokeswoman for Ocean Lakes Family Campground, said it also ordered signs for its beach accesses and is spreading the word on its website and through social media. She said information about the ban posted on the Ocean Lakes Facebook page elicited comments both in support of and against the ban. Ocean Lakes is in Horry County’s jurisdiction.

“Before the ban was final, the only people we heard from vocally were against the ban, even though we knew there were people who supported banning the tents,” she said. “Once it passed, it’s been about 50-50.”

Not all businesses are moving quickly, though. Donald Hovis, marketing manager for Springmaid Beach Resort & Conference Center, said the business has not finalized any procedures to let their guests know about the change to the law. Springmaid also is in Horry County’s jurisdiction.

“We’ve got something in place where if someone was to walk up to the front desk we have a statement that we give, but that’s internally,” he said. “We haven’t finalized a plan for the public.”

In Horry County, spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier said officials are considering installing beach signage to let people know the tents aren’t allowed.

Contact MAYA T. PRABHU at 444-1722 or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_MPrabhu.

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