THIS WEEK’S TOP STORIES
Tourism: Holiday numbers confirm hopes for strong season
By Jason Lesley
Beach vacancies were hard to find last week.
A study by Coastal Carolina University found vacation property was 95.2 percent occupied in a sampling from Georgetown and Horry counties.
Lauren Joseph, tourism director for Georgetown County, said July 4 is always good for the county’s beaches marketed as the Hammock Coast. “Folks rent for July 4 year after year,” she said. “My husband’s family has rented a house on Pawleys Island on the week of the fourth for 39 years. That’s what you see when you watch the parade: the same families on floats. That is really one of the unique things about Georgetown County, Litchfield, Pawleys Island and Garden City. Once you come, you come back every year.”
Joseph said rentals for the week prior to July 4 were up 4.8 percent and this week is up 13 percent over last year to 90 percent occupancy. “Things look good going into the rest of the summer,” she said.
Will Dieter at The Dieter Co. said his rental houses were reserved weeks in advance of July 4. “Thankfully, we had a very smooth week, no major issues,” he said. “There was a little scare off the coast, but at least people could plan for the rain that day, not like an afternoon thunderstorm that sprang up on them.”
The rainy July 3 proved a boon to retail shopping and dining in the area.
“I think it was a record, absolutely nuts,” said Amy Bunn, owner of the Joggling Board, a children’s clothing shop at Oak Lea in Pawleys Island. “With the hurricane brewing, people wanted to shop.”
Dieter said July’s rentals look good across the board after a bit of a slow June because schools had to make up days missed during the winter ice storm.
Linwood Altman at Pawleys Island Realty said many owners at Pawleys Island reserve the week of July 4 for themselves and occupancy rates are not a true indicator of rentals. However, he said July 4 weekly rentals this year were better than last year. “It seems like we increase every year incrementally,” Altman said. “Summer is looking good.”
Altman said the fact that 46 houses on Pawleys Island are for sale presents unusual circumstances. “That’s approaching 10 percent of the houses,” he said. “Some are rented, and some are not.”
Lee Hewitt at Garden City Realty said his rental homes were 95 percent occupied. “The week of the fourth was a great week,” he said. “The week after the fourth it falls off a little. I think it has to do with the traveling the day after the fourth. But it picks right back up, and it’s shaping up to be an excellent summer.”