The Horry County Welcome Back committee voted Thursday to use the domain name “GreaterGrandStrandIsOpen.com” for its marketing website.
The site is tentatively aimed at directing businesses, visitors and residents to each municipality’s chamber of commerce page and to reassure locals and tourists that it’s safe to come back to the beach and support local businesses as they adhere to new safety procedures in the era of COVID-19.
A survey to businesses issued by the committee in advance of the meeting received just 11 responses and showed that “GrandStrandIsOpen.com” was the top choice, followed by “AccelerateHorry.com” and “HorryIsOpen.com”
But the committee was hesitant on all three, reasoning that just using the term “Grand Strand” could ostracize some inland towns like Loris and Aynor, while using “Horry” wouldn’t resonate with the tourists who drive the local economy.
“As business owners, and everybody that’s on this committee, we get it,” said Horry County Council Chairman Johnny Gardner. “We understand what ‘Horry’ means, and yes, that’s the most relevant. However, we also know that when folks are coming to this area, which drives our economy, most folks can’t pronounce ‘Horry,’ they struggle with it.
"And, when people are talking to their kids about going on vacation - ‘Hey guys, we’re going to Horry County’ - that’s not something that’s exciting for a family. But when they say ‘We’re going to the Grand Strand’ or ‘We’re going to Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach,’ or wherever it might be, it’s a little bit better.”
Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce President Karen Riordan said she was in favor of using “GrandStrandIsOpen” because it’s familiar to locals, visitors and business owners, while Rick Elliot of Elliot Rentals and Ashley Jordan of Aynor were in favor of using “Horry” in the domain name.
“My pick was ‘HorryIsOpen,’ because like they said in the past, that takes care of all of Horry County, not just strictly the beach area,” Jordan said. “We don’t have a lot of marketing and stuff here, but we do get traffic through.”
County councilor Tyler Servant, who represents the southern coastal area of the county, said he wanted Georgetown County to get involved with the site as well, given that many of his constituents will visit Murrells Inlet and Pawleys Island, while Georgetown residents regularly visit Myrtle Beach.
“As it relates to the URL, I think we need to be all-inclusive in Georgetown County and Horry County,” Servant said. “We’re all in the same boat right now. We’re trying to attract as many people here as possible to fill our hotel rooms, but also give our residents a sense of security. It would be nice to have one landing page for both of our counties.”
Ultimately, Conway Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy suggested ‘GreaterGrandStrandIsOpen.com,’ reasoning that the phrase would be more inclusive of inland communities while also speaking to tourists who drive the economy. The committee adopted that name by majority vote.
“For locals, the demarcation line is the intracoastal waterway. However, I have to agree that for people who are elsewhere, we are in fact the Grand Strand,” the Conway mayor said. “The Grand Strand is the economic engine for those people who live inland, for those western municipalities, and out in the county, and maybe the addition of the word ‘greater’ would better encompass the entirety of Horry County.”
Before the meeting ended, John Cassidy of printing and graphics company Duplicates INK said he bought the URL for the committee.
Riordan, Cassidy, Elliot, North Myrtle Beach Chamber CEO Cheryl Kilday and Devin Parks with the Conway Chamber of Commerce volunteered to be on the marketing subcommittee, which will report back to the group during the next meeting on June 4 at 10:30 a.m.