Myrtle Beach tourism better than 2019, 2020, chamber of commerce says

Grand Strand

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Data from the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce (MBACC) shows Summer 2021 was busier for hotels and resorts than summers past.

June, July and August lodging numbers in 2021 were at least 30% higher than 2020 and at least 24% higher than 2019, according to a news release from the MBACC. This data is the first official look at the entire summer season as a whole, whereas before individual weeks and holiday weekends were being compared.

Karen Riordan, MBACC president and CEO, said that the boom in tourism trickles down to just about everyone along the Grand Strand. She explained that the chamber continued with its marketing effort throughout the pandemic, and that might be part of the reason Myrtle Beach was so busy and a destination for so many this summer.

“I think it’s a combination of that pent up demand and us being in the right place at the right time with a welcoming message that really turned the corner for us,” Riordan said.

The trickle down effect was felt at area bars and restaurants as well as entertainment centers. Victor Shamah, owner of Duffy’s and The Bowery along Ocean Boulevard for the past 41 years, said business was up for his restaurants somewhere between 15% and 20%.

“This summer was better than the last few years by far,” Shamah said.

While business was up, staffing was down. Shamah said he had trouble all summer figuring out staffing.

He also dealt with supply issues from cups to chicken wings, he said. Shamah estimated business could have been better by an additional 10% if not for the shortages in labor and supply.

“It’s very stressful because not only the staff, but we could not even get the products we need from the suppliers to put it on our menu to deliver it to the customers,” Shamah said.

Shamah said customers were, for the most part, patient and understanding.

“It was really really hard to satisfy everybody even though the ones we had did bare with us and were good customers and some of our regulars did come back and waited without any stress at all,” Shamah said.

Riordan said Shamah’s restaurants were not the only ones held back by staffing issues this summer. She said most found a way to manage the shortage with the influx of visitors.

“For all those businesses that I talked to the did truly struggle with workforce this year not one of them told me they wanted less business,” Riordan said.

Riordan said Myrtle Beach has to find a way to attract more workers.

“What can we be doing to convince more of our high school students to take that part time job next year, next summer, our college students, even our seniors, our veterans,” Riordan asked.

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