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New CCU study reveal statistics on area tourism

May 13, 2010

The Economic Impact of Tourism on the Grand Strand, a study by Donald L Schunk, research economist at Coastal Carolina University, reports that visitors spend about $4.5 billion annually in the resort area comprising Horry and Georgetown counties.

The complete study, conducted by Schunk for CCUs Center for Economic and Community Development, is available at

The following executive summary lists the main points of the study.


Executive Summary

Donald L. Schunk, Ph.D.

E. Craig Wall Sr. College of Business Administration

The Grand Strand attracts millions of visitors each year. While these visitors are ultimately drawn to the area because of the Grand Strands 60 miles of beachesan attraction that is, for the most part, free to enjoythey spend a significant amount of money staying in the area, eating in the area, shopping in the area, golfing in the area, and enjoying other entertainment and recreation venues. Money spent directly by then ripples throughout the local economy, supporting business activity, jobs and household income in every sector of the Grand Strands economy. The purpose of this economic impact study is to quantify these effects on the Grand Strand economy.

The key findings of the study include:

Direct visitor spending on the Grand Strand (Horry and Georgetown Counties combined) totals an estimated $4.5 billion annually, based on average data from 2006-2008.

Of this total, visitors spend an estimated $3.9 billion on sales taxable purchasesabout 87 percent of visitor spending is subject to state and local sales taxes.

After accounting for various economic multiplier effects, visitor spending supports a total of $6.5 billion worth of economic activity on the Grand Strand.

In total, visitor spending supports 75,000 jobs across Horry and Georgetown counties. While centered in the traditional tourism sectors, these jobs are spread across all sectors of the regions economy. These jobs are accompanied by more than $1.9 billion of labor income.

Visitor spending on the Grand Strand directly generates nearly $278 million in state sales and individual income taxes annually.

The economic impacts of visitor spending have grown in importance during the recession as spending in leisure and hospitality sectors has experienced a smaller decline than overall spending. The Grand Strands tourism industry prevented a more pronounced decline in the local economy during the recession of 2008 and 2009.

For more information, contact Don Schunk, research economist at Coastal Carolina University,, 843-655-0995.

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