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Tourism Talk | Cooking up business in Canada

A word on wooing Canadian tourists: First win their stomachs, then win their hearts.

James Clark, executive chef for Marina Inn at Grande Dunes, will travel to Toronto next week to promote the Strand, said Kimberly Miles, spokeswoman for the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, who will also make the trip.

The trip aims to increase awareness of Myrtle Beach among Canadians and garner attention for Porter Airlines' seasonal flights to Myrtle Beach, which restart in February, Miles said.

"One strategy of that awareness increase is featuring the area's Carolina Coastal cuisine since culinary tourism is a popular trend [among] travelers," Miles said.

The flights to Toronto began last year for the spring season and were the first direct international flights to Myrtle Beach International Airport.

Clark and Miles will fly to Toronto on Monday and return on Friday, Miles said. During that time, the pair will help run an information table promoting the Porter flights at Toronto's Billy Bishop airport and host an event for travel media.

Clark will also conduct a live cooking demonstration on Breakfast Television, a morning show in Toronto, Miles said.

Project on the ropes

A ropes course that had planned to open in Myrtle Beach this year has been put on hold for financial reasons, an organizer said.

The Radical Ropes Adventure Park won't open in time for the summer as planned, said Tom Moore, general manager of the Hampton Inn & Suites Myrtle Beach Oceanfront Resort. The Hampton Inn, 1801 S. Ocean Blvd., owns the wooded property off 19th Avenue South in Myrtle Beach where the park would be built.

The Hampton spent more than what it expected making improvements to the hotel and doesn't want to take on the cost of building the ropes course, Moore said. The hotel may take the project up again in two or three years.

The ropes course, which would have included six zip lines, would have been the third ropes course to open on the Grand Strand since 2008. The most recent, Broadway at the Beach's Soar and Explore, opened last year. The other ropes course, Coastal Adventure, is in North Myrtle Beach.

Poor January for booze

Business is terrible this January for Myrtle Beach beer distributor Better Brands Inc., and the cold weather keeping away tourists might be to blame, said President Mike Riley.

"Since the cold and the wet, some of those people who were relatively close by who would drive down are not coming," he said.

Business is down double-digits so far this month compared with January 2010, which was also a poor month, Riley said.

The company is coming off of an excellent summer in 2010, Riley said. Better Brands is the primary distributor of Anheuser-Busch products for the Strand.