An email sent to local business leader Ann Dunham from the SC Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism’s Research Director indicates that the number of 18 million tourists claimed by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce could be a highly inflated number. The SCPRT reports 8 million tourists likely visited all of Horry County.
Writes Dudley Jackson, Research Director, “It is a report of annual, county-level visitation estimates for a ‘typical and recent’ year but not for any year in particular. The estimates are basically based on an average of the estimates from three different approaches, each of which averages input data from several years. One of the three approaches uses straight survey data. The second approach is an in-house model that works backwards from lodging inventory and Occupancy Rates. The third is a model that works backwards from Accommodations Tax Collections and Average Room Rates. The resulting estimates should be considered ballpark at best. Sorry but we definitely don’t have a comparison of change in visitation over time at the county level or below. The data available are just not reliable and trustworthy enough for that.”
How MBACC calculates their own number could be higher, however, because of the way the Tourism Development Fee legislation defines what a “visitor” is by law. According to the legislation, anyone leaving their neighborhood and driving into Myrtle Beach is defined, by that legislation, as a tourist. Therefor a person driving in from Carolina Forest would, by law, be considered a Myrtle Beach tourist.
The TDF legislation (tourist tax) brought in over $22 million in tax revenues for MBACC last year.
North Myrtle Beach will put the TDF initiative on the ballot for voter referendum in March. The Myrtle Beach TDF extension vote could go on a referendum vote this year as well.
As neighborhoods like Market Common and Grand Dunes continue to explode with new resident growth, actual city toilets flushed numbers through 2015 do not add up to the increased tourism numbers that MBACC continues to promote.