Chamber of commerce: First-time visitors spent $3.8 billion in Myrtle Beach in 2018

Grand Strand

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce (MBACC) says first-time visitors spent nearly $4 billion in 2018.

In a few months, the Grand Strand’s beaches will be packed with thousands of visitors a day, but the MBACC is trying to get more tourists all year long.

“Our ultimate goal is to take our total number of visitors and stretch them out as nicely and as evenly as we can,” said chamber of commerce CEO Karen Riordan.

The chamber released an annual report this week to show how it’s trying to reach that goal. One way is by attracting first-time visitors, who made up 39% of all tourists in 2018.

They spent about $3.8 billion.

“If we can get them to come here, they’ll fall in love and come back,” Riordan said.

Riordan says studying online trends helps the chamber of commerce consistently increase the number of visitors, which grew by 4% in 2018.

“It’s very strategic growth,” she said. “We’re not off the charts. When you’re a successful destination, it’s very hard to get a 5% year-over-year increase.”

The report also says about $27.6 million was made in the first 10 months of 2019 through the tourism development fee. That’s the one-cent city sales tax, primarily dedicated to advertising Myrtle Beach as a vacation destination across the country and internationally.

Riordan says this is the first time the chamber of commerce has released some of these numbers, in order to increase transparency about how public money is being spent.

“We are using third-party data sources to prove that what we’re doing is working,” she said. “The chamber and CVB does invest with these outside companies.”

Riordan also says tourists in 2018 spent $164 in Myrtle Beach for every dollar the chamber put towards advertising.


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