Data Shows Tourism Tax Does Not Work. Guests Hate Hidden Fees
Hidden Resort Fees Hurt Tourism
Myrtle Beach Chamber is once again being investigated for state-wide corruption
Checking out of a hotel room is usually a stress-free process – unless your bill is filled with unexpected charges. Tourists visiting the city of Myrtle Beach have informed us they are paying as much as twenty one percent in add on taxes and fees to their hotel bill. According to the Travelers United, the average resort fee reached $24.93 a night in October 2015.
According to the Bureau of Economics, the biggest consumer gripe is that resort fees are often left out the advertised price. This practice is called partitioned pricing, and is used by many online travel agents (OTAs), such as Expedia and Orbitz, to divide the price into multiple components without always disclosing the total. For example, if you’re on an OTA looking for a hotel in Myrtle Beach, the room rate might come up as $220 per night. But that’s not the real rate – the Myrtle Beach resort fee, which can run as much as $46.20 per night extra, would only be displayed when you check out of the hotel.
AND NOW – A state wide probe has been put in place by Solicitor David Pascoe. Pascoe indicted S.C. House Representative Jim Merrill on charges of money laundering for the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau. MyrtleBeachSC.com has been made aware that Solicitor Pascoe recently expanded his investigation into payments made by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce to Merrill’s concerns.
These alleged bribes were made with those same hidden resort fees that hotels, like Breakers Resort, add to guest stays listed as taxes and fees. Eighty percent of the tax (known as the TDF) is sent to the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. $60,000 of those dollars are now known to have been passed to Pluff Mud Media Affairs. This firm has been accused of working with Merrill to money launder funds to Merrill while the Representative was simultaneously working on legislation that favored organizations like the Charleston Chamber and Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.
Many of those same hidden fees are also passed to corporate news organizations like Raycom, Nextstar and Sinclair Broadcasting.
We reached out to the local station managers, who have approved much of the millions in annual funding with the following questions.
Billy, Sarah, and Randy,
1. As station managers of the three TV outlets in the Florence/Myrtle Beach market whose ongoing corporations (even into recent mergers) receive millions in corporate TDF funds annually, do you believe media managers who accept corporate TDF funding should serve on the MBACC boards?
2. Are you aware of any 20% rebates paid back to the MBACC general fund or PAC funds after media buys were made with TDF dollars from the current corporation you manage or previous corporations that previously owned your station?
3. Should legislative measures be written that require the MBACC to be audited for TDF expenditures? Should a “government watchdog” of these tax expenditures be put in place.?
4. Should the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber be held to the highest level of standards as to “Truth in Advertising.” These issues stem around last March’s campaign across TDF paid corporate media in proclaiming the city of Myrtle Beach had NO issues after one DHEC tax paid water test was done.
Myrtle Beach City Councilman Randal Wallace