Thursday, July 17, 2014
Rentals in the Murrells Inlet and Garden City areas are up about 6 percent compared to the same time last year.
That is according to several rental companies and a Coastal Carolina University tourism economy study, which looked at a sample of rental properties in Horry and Georgetown counties and determined a rise of 6.5 percent.
Lee Hewitt, broker in charge for Garden City Realty, said his company’s rentals are up from last year and right now it seems like they will continue that way for the rest of the season.
“I think the whole Grand Strand area is going to be much better off,” Hewitt said.
“Going into the next three or four weeks, we are almost at full capacity. We could certainly use more properties.”
Garden City Realty handles rental properties including houses and condominiums on the south strand from the south end of Myrtle Beach to Litchfield By the Sea in Pawleys Island.
He said he thinks numbers of rentals are up from last year because people are feeling more secure about the economy.
He also credits the weather.
“I think that this past real cold winter got people wanting to come out,” Hewitt said.
Ryan Swaim, general manager of Dunes Realty Vacation Rentals said July rentals are about even with last year, but numbers of rentals in August are up.
“Last year, August rentals were at a record high and this year is on track to be two to three percent above that,” Swaim said.
Dunes Realty rents condominiums and houses in the Garden City Beach and Surfside Beach areas.
Swaim credits the Chamber of Commerce and late school start dates for their success in August.
School start dates were creeping toward the beginning of August and after pressure from the Chamber of Commerce, the legislature effected a later school start date.
He said many people book vacations in June or August because July is the peak of the season and rates are highest that month.
He said more people probably booked in August because people were nervous to book in June since winter weather caused schools to make up school days in June.
Performed by CCU’s Clay Brittain Jr. Center for Resort Tourism, the tourism economy study states that “the Center’s observations of websites of vacation rental properties in Horry and Georgetown counties indicate that 93.4 percent are currently reserved for July 19-25. The level of vacation rental properties’ reservations for Horry and Georgetown counties combined is up 6.5 percent compared with the equivalent week of 2013.”
Lauren Joseph, tourism marketing director for the Georgetown County Tourism Management Commission, said the county’s “Hammock Coast” marketing campaign could have something to do with the trend.
“We are getting more traction with the Hammock Coast brand,” Joseph said.
“And South Carolina has moved the focus of marketing to more ‘off the beaten path,’ focusing on smaller and more rural places. Georgetown County fits into that nicely.
“I think Garden City, Murrells Inlet, Litchfield and Pawleys Island are becoming more popular,” Hewitt said.
“People are discovering that they can get out of Myrtle Beach and enjoy a more quiet, family beach.”