For many hotels along the Grand Strand, the Fourth of July weekend did not bring the number of visitors they hoped for.
According to lodging numbers provided by Coastal Carolina University, the occupancy rate along the Grand Strand from June 25-July 1 was at 84 percent, which is down 6.8 percent compared to the same week last year.
Taylor Damonte, a professor at CCU who compiles the statistics, said that when the holiday falls on a Tuesday, or any weekday other than Monday or Friday, the number of tourists that come to the area will be affected.
Last year the Fourth of July fell on a Monday.
“When that holiday falls on a Monday or Friday it makes it possible to take a three day weekend,” Damonte said. “The first issue I usually look back to is the calendar … as is the weather.”
A similar instance occurred between 2011 and 2012, when the Fourth fell on a Monday and a Wednesday.
According to Damonte, in 2011 the occupancy rate was 89 percent versus 84 percent in 2012.
For local businesses, the decrease is cause for concern.
“Some retail and amusement businesses are concerned that visitor spending is not keeping pace with [the] prior year,” Brad Dean, President of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, said. “It remains to be seen how the rest of July fares.”
In 2016, the Bay View Resort, located along North Ocean Boulevard, had a 98.5 percent occupancy rate, compared to 90.1 percent occupancy rate in 2017 on July 4.
“In my opinion, I’d say it would probably be due to the violence that was here,” Patrick Gleason, manager of Beach Creations said. “Last year was much better.”
For some tourists, the violence – including a shooting that was live-streamed on Facebook – has caused them to change their vacation plans, The Sun News reported.
“After seeing the Facebook video, I have canceled my vacation plans in your city,” Ken Schwartz wrote to Myrtle Beach city Spokesman Mark Kruea. “Don’t want to vacation in a war zone.”
However, for some businesses, numbers were up.
The Meridian Plaza, located at 2310 North Ocean Boulevard, reported a 42.6 percent occupancy rate in 2016, compared to a 93.2 percent occupancy rate in 2017 on July 4.
Damonte said that businesses that fell behind over the weekend still have a chance to catch up throughout the rest of the month.
Despite the decline for many businesses, Damonte said, the number of vacation rental properties reserved between July 1 through July 7 was 97.9 percent, which is a 1.7 percent increase from the same week in 2016.