Myrtle Beach feeling crowded lately? Visitors numbers have skyrocketed this spring


It’s only the second full week of April, and Myrtle Beach is already feeling crowded by tourists.

In a sign that the winter slow season has truly come to an end, Myrtle Beach last week saw its highest hotel capacity since August 2020, according to Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce data. Hotels were at 86.5% capacity, a 20 percentage point increase over the previous week.

The week of August 9-15, 2020, was the last time hotels were that full, at 86.6% capacity, according to Coastal Carolina University lodging data.

The average daily rate for hotel rooms jumped $20 between last week and the week before, the chamber data showed. The current average sits at just over $160 per night.

Vacation rentals were at 65% occupancy last week, an 8 percentage point increase from the week before. This week’s gap between hotels and vacation rental occupancy rates is the widest it’s been in months, with vacation rentals, such as Airbnb and rentals managed by other companies, often near or completely outpacing hotels throughout the pandemic, according to CCU lodging data.

Tourism experts said for much of last year that vacation rentals were more popular than hotels because of their perceived safety compared to hotel crowds.

The crowds come as 38.5% of South Carolinians have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Nearly one quarter of the state’s residents — more than 1 million people — have completed their vaccination.

Many of the Grand Strand’s visitors are not from South Carolina, though. License plates from places as far away as Massachusetts have been spotted around town in the last few weeks.

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