Ji-Sean Artis’ premier vacation spot is Myrtle Beach.
“I feel like it’s the littest beach,” the Goldsboro, North Carolina, resident said. “The atmosphere is different than where we’re from.”
He and his friends including Josh Gooding were downtown filming for their YouTube channels, hoping to grow their subscriber counts by shooting things like interviews and pranks.
“A lot of people up north can’t make it all the way to Miami,” Gooding said, “so they come to Myrtle Beach.”
The visitors are some of the vacationers who have hit the tourism-dependent city during the beginning of summer.
“I think overall our members are pleased with the volume of visitors we’re seeing,” said Karen Riordan, Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce’s president and chief executive officer.
She highlighted recent sunny weather, adding this past weekend saw congested roads and busy eateries.
Chamber officials feel good about June, the month when business is known to “ramp up.” In May, business was especially substantial.
Riordan pointed out high schools in northern areas like New England, where many vacationers leave to vacation in Myrtle Beach, might not let out until late June.
People are preparing for the Fourth of July weekend and chamber leaders expect many visitors to flock to the area in both July and August.
“Those are prime summer months,” Riordan said.
All indicators are pointing toward a “very strong summer,” she added. The chamber has been promoting the area as a summer tourist destination in more than 80 markets.
Last year, the area had a “strong June” and an even better July and August.
Riordan said the numbers for those months this year are on pace to mirror 2018’s.
Some like Nick Simmons come to Myrtle Beach for the summertime romance and Tinder swipes.
The Kannapolis, North Carolina, resident cruised down Ocean Boulevard in his dad’s Ford F-350 with four buddies, passengers rotating from the front of the pickup to the cargo bed.
The chance to meet females and let loose is the friends’ focus.
“It’s definitely worth it,” Simmons said of visits to the city. “Except when you get pulled over (by the police).”
Not all come to the city party though.
Teens Jay Soles and Paris Evans from Durham, North Carolina, like to hang out on the beach or by the pool when they’re not playing arcade games or eating seafood.
Lucy Nicolai, a restaurant manager at Pier 14, said sales have been strong in recent weeks at the business’ eatery, crediting much of the foot traffic to a new hotel located nearby.
“It’s been real good,” she said, adding the restaurant is seemingly getting busier and busier.
With business being very weather-dependent, she noted the eatery hasn’t been impacted greatly by rain in recent weeks. Many customers are those strolling the boardwalk area or staying at nearby hotels.
Nicolai said that the establishment saw a lot of foot traffic during the Carolina Country Music Fest (CCMF) at the former Pavilion site earlier in June.
Additionally, the Independence Day weekend is one of the restaurant’s busiest. Nicolai attributed this to people being in the area and the pier providing a front row seat to see fireworks shot off 2nd Avenue Pier.
Those who vacation in Myrtle Beach aren’t always from the northern part of the country or North Carolina.
Michelle Basham of Kentucky visited the city for nearly a week with her husband Mike and youngest daughter Paige.
Looking to avoid the hometown crowd that often visits places like Destin, Florida, the family relished the cheaper vacation prices and steering clear of rainfall back home.
“It’s been a great trip,” Michelle Basham said.
During their stay, they went to spots like Broadway at the Beach and ate at different restaurants, taking pleasure in simply walking wherever they chose.
Michelle Basham said she bought something from Gay Dolphin Gift Cove, a popular shop downtown.
The store’s general manager Michelle Kerscher said it has seen strong sales recently, having some of the busiest days in two decades this year.
She pointed out the establishment draws a lot of longtime shoppers and families. Regarding the peak tourist season, Kerscher said, “Without these days, we would never make it.”
She said the shop has had a lot of patrons during April and May, noting 2019 had a late Easter.
While CCMF brought a lull, the business has seen good numbers after the concert series and that trend has been continuing.
Like their fellow North Carolinians, teens Soles and Evans said people in Myrtle Beach seem friendlier as opposed to those back home.
Now an upperclassman in high school, Soles said perhaps she’d revisit Myrtle Beach for her senior week.
“It’s a great atmosphere, nice people and a lot of things to do,” she said, “and you never get bored.”