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Many hotels and resorts are nearly empty in Myrtle Beach on May 3, 2020. Photo by Janet Morgan/janet.morgan@myhorrynews.com

Myrtle Beach hotel occupancy rates climbed by 8% during the week of Carolina Country Music Festival compared to the week prior.

Racking up to a whopping 83% for the week of CCMF (June 6-12), Myrtle Beach hotels saw a 27% increase in occupancy compared to the same week last year, when the festival was cancelled, according to lodging metrics from the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.

Occupancy rates were already on the way up, increasing from 68.6% on May 16 to 76.6% on May 30 — both higher than figures in 2020 and 2019.

“We were sold out every night for the country music festival,” said Savannah Kirchmann, assistant general manager at Homewood Suites by Hilton. “Fourth of July weekend and the weekend after have also been sold out since before Memorial Day.”

Restaurants were similarly packed to the rafters during the annual festival.

“On a good night, we have 400-500 people in the restaurant,” said Kelly Hester, co-owner of Mama Mia Pizzeria. “This weekend we’ve had 700-800.”

The Bowery, which provides a view from 9th Avenue North of the entire festival grounds, is a spot many CCMF attendees stop in.

“We’re completely packed, that’s all I can tell you,” said Bowery General Manager Victor Sharmah. “The festival is a blessing for everyone around.”

The Myrtle Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau has forecasted a comeback for the hospitality industry.

“As of June 17, 2021, Horry County Adjusted Paid and Owner Occupancy bookings for the next 60 days are pacing 17.2 points ahead of 2019 and 11.4 points ahead of 2020,” reads a statement from the group. “We’ve been seeing strong destination demand for the summer and expect to see average occupancy rates to increase up to date of stay.”

The rebound confirms springtime predictions from local business experts.

Myrtle Beach Chief Financial Officer Michelle Shumpert predicted at the city’s April budget retreat that a loosening of pandemic restrictions would lead to more vacationing in the area.

In the same month, Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce Spokeswoman Marlane White told My Horry News that hotel bookings between April 15 and June 14 were at 49% — 9% higher than the same period in 2019.

That optimism was borne out in last month’s occupancy numbers. 

Between May 16 and June 6, STR data of traditional hotels show, occupancy rates jumped nearly 15%, from 68.6% to 83%. In each of the weeks studied, the year-over-year increase was between 27.1% and 37.4%.

Kirchmann said the hotel has been sold out every weekend for the past month.

“We’re seeing at least 80% occupancy every night,” said Kirchman, adding that occupancy began to increase in April, when the weather warmed up. “Sometimes we can get people in on short notice for a weekday, but weekends need more notice.”

Vacation rentals, measured by key data, have also jumped.

Between May 16 and June 6, vacation rentals leaped nearly 25%, from 52.96% to 77.77%. There were year-over-year improvements each week.

For both rentals and hotels, year-over-year increases declined each week, reflecting the tourism bump during the summer months of 2020.

You can reach Jonathan Haynes securely over Signal at 910-679-6902, send him encrypted files through Keybase at https://keybase.io/jonathanhaynes, or contact him via email at jonathan.haynes@myhorrynews.com


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