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Hanna damages Grand Strand fall tourism revenue

September 10, 2008

Although Tropical Storm Hanna did mercifully little physical damage to South Carolina's Grand Strand, the area's tourism economy took a direct hit this past weekend, resulting in a loss of more than $22 million in revenue. This figure does not include indirect or induced revenues lost as a result of the decline in visitor spending, according to an economic analysis of Hanna's impact produced by the Brittain Center for Resort Tourism and the BB&T Center for Economic and Community Development at Coastal Carolina University. ????? ???????? ?????? ?????

The study indicates that the lodging sector alone lost an estimated $10,622,000 from Thursday, Sept. 4, when Gov. Mark Sanford issued a voluntary evacuation of the coastal areas of Horry and Georgetown counties, through Saturday, Sept. 6. The restaurant segment lost an additional $6,043,000, and the entertainment and sports segments lost another $1,137,000. The balance of the estimated losses was in the areas of retail sales, groceries, transportation, gasoline, etc.

"Comparing last year's occupancy rate statistics to this year's for the same September weekend shows that the rate fell significantly, from almost 70 percent in 2007 to only 28 percent in 2008," said Taylor Damonte, director of the Brittain Center for Resort Tourism.

In addition to the direct revenue lost by businesses, local governments lost accommodation tax and hospitality fee revenue. The revenue lost by all Grand Strand cities and counties combined amounted to an estimated $710,600.

"This substantial loss of revenue cannot be recovered easily and will require local governments to make adjustments to their current budgets," said Gary Loftus, director of the BB&T Center for Economic and Community Development.

For more information contact Taylor Damonte at 843-349-2698 or Gary Loftus at 843-340-9992.