Myrtle Beach named top summer destination by TripAdvisor

dbryant@thesunnews.comMay 27, 2014 

THE SUN NEWS

The accolades for Myrtle Beach have been rolling in as the busy summer tourism season approaches, with the destination accumulating nods for its affordability, family offerings and overall appeal.

One of the most significant shoutouts came from travel website TripAdvisor, which declared Myrtle Beach the top destination this summer based on TripAdvisor search data for June 1-Aug. 31.

Myrtle Beach ranked above powerhouse destinations Las Vegas (No. 2) and New York City (No. 3). The rest of the top 10: Destin, Fla.; Ocean City, Md.; Orlando, Fla.; Virginia Beach, Va.; San Francisco, Calif.; San Diego, Calif.; and Key West, Fla.

Myrtle Beach also topped GoBankingRates.com’s list as the most popular and affordable travel destination in the United States. The financial website cited low costs for flights at Myrtle Beach International Airport – average roundtrip ticket is $234.57 according to CheapOair – and the area’s range of lodging and restaurant options, as well as things to do for less than $30 a person.

“For travelers on a tight budget, Myrtle Beach often has free summer festivals and events, concerts, fireworks and movie screenings, as well as free entry to a wildlife exhibit and art museum,” GoBankingRates wrote.

Charlotte was the only other Carolina city to make GoBankingRates top 25.

Myrtle Beach also was recognized as one of the 10 best beaches for families this year by website FamilyVacationCritic.com and last month was mentioned on NBC’s “Today” show as one of Budget Travel’s five “Stylish Steals” for vacation. Darley Newman, a contributing editor for Budget Travel who grew up in Myrtle Beach, said the magazine’s choices centered on destinations where travelers could enjoy stays for less than $100 a day.

No word yet on how Myrtle Beach’s inclusion on these lists might lure travelers, but it shows that the area’s name recognition nationally is growing, said Brad Dean, president of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.

“The various accolades are a good indicator that the Grand Strand is growing in popularity and national prominence,” he said. “While paid advertising is essential to growing tourism, third party endorsements and accolades help differentiate the destination and boost consumer appeal.”

SkyWheel plans in Virginia on hold

A SkyWheel similar to the one in Myrtle Beach won’t be opening any time soon in Virginia Beach, Va.

Koch Development, which built the SkyWheel in Myrtle Beach on the oceanfront near Mr. Joe White Avenue, asked Virginia Beach, Va., to defer its permit application after concerns surfaced about the location, according to reports on PilotOnline.com, the website of The Virginian-Pilot.

The City Council had been scheduled to vote on it this Tuesday.

Some city officials said the 200-foot SkyWheel would be a good fit for the oceanfront, but several had concerns about the specific lot being too small to accommodate the wheel and too close to an adjacent hotel, with the hotelier concerned that riders would be able to see into the rooms and that the wheel’s lights would bother guests, The Virginian-Pilot reported.

In Myrtle Beach, city and business leaders heralded the SkyWheel’s arrival three years ago, along with the Jimmy Buffett’s LandShark Bar & Grill, which also was part of the $12 million project.

Myrtle Beach leaders have said the SkyWheel, which stands 187-feet tall and has changed the beach’s skyline, has lured new visitors to the oceanfront area.

Contact DAWN BRYANT at 626-0296 or follow on Twitter @TSN_dawnbryant.

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