The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce Board President, Carla Schuessler, made a presentation to Myrtle Beach City Council on February 27th, touting glowing success and numbers of over 18 million tourists.
The Chamber speaker was followed, however, by Tuvia Wilkes, local Ocean Boulevard business owner, who stated his business was down 43% last year. Another business owner, Anthony Calda, spoke just before the Chamber presentation. Calda stated his business had been severely off in 2017 as well. Calda, who owns Caldas Coal Fire Pizza, told City Council he had considered moving his business out of Myrtle Beach, but just recently decided to stay.
Later, Calda posted this picture on his Myrtle Beach Voters Facebook page.
The post has since been seen by tens of thousands on Facebook and Twitter.
The Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce is currently lobbying Myrtle Beach City Council for a $200 million, ten year tax extension of the Tourist Tax. The tax is legally known as the TDF. MBACC has re-sold these tourist tax subsidies to local hotels as a private source of funding for the Chamber for the past 8 years generating, as much as, $100 million in private MBACC funding.
Merchants and the SCPRT have disputed MBACC’s tourist numbers. State SCPRT numbers indicate 8 million tourists visit Horry County annually. In their presentation on Tuesday, MBACC said the number of tourists who visit the area annually exceeds 18 million.
Duane Parrish, the director of the South Carolina Department of Parks Recreation and Tourism, said the state uses an algorithm based on occupancy of chain hotels and motels, which don’t make up as large a percentage of beds along the Grand Strand as they do in other places in the state. Reports show that MBACC also does not include smaller local mom and pop hotels in their numbers as well.
While Mr. Parrish indicated the state numbers were conservative, he declined on commenting about the 10 million visitor difference. Locals say, because of a 10 million visitor measure of difference, one of the two organizations should be called to task. Which one, no one can say, but one of the two [MBACC or SCPRT] has to be extremely wrong.
The City Of North Myrtle Beach puts the vote out to a referendum next Tuesday so that North Myrtle Beach residents can decide if they want to pay the tax. Myrtle Beach City Council has yet to decide whether to let local residents have a say, or decide if they will vote the extension in themselves, taking the measure out of voters’ hands.
Local residents and merchants are clearly staying tuned. We will update our readers on how North Myrtle Beach residents vote next week.
While much has been made in national media about the $4.8 million the NRA spent in lobbying last year, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent $103 million lobbying during that same time period. (20.8 times more)