Tourism industry employees impacted by Hurricane Matthew

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – Hurricane Matthew had a big impact on the tourism industry on the Grand Strand.  The Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce said that up until the storm, the city was having its best fall ever, but no longer expect a banner season.

The evacuation order and cleanup after Matthew meant many businesses stayed closed for a week or more during an import shoulder season for tourists.

At the Island Vista Resort, the general manager said they were on pace to have a record number of guests for October; but lost out on a week of business and 50% of their guests failed to re-book.

GM Steve Chapman said that especially hurt this year because they were counting on a good October, after a slow start to the season.

“Our early June was a little soft this year, we were kind of hoping to recover that in October, but it didn’t happen unfortunately,” said Chapman.

Chapman said that the end of the month was fairly good at the resort, but still won’t make up for the first week of the month heading into the slower off-season.

“Even if you fill up this time of year, once you get to December and January our rates are so low, you just struggle, you don’t even make payroll, you know it’s the time of the year even if we’re full,” said Chapman.

Business owners weren’t the only ones affected by Hurricane Matthew, employees were also impacted by closures.

Instead of cashing in on a busy shoulder season, many were forced to stay home.

At places like the Island Vista, that affected the majority of workers, who are paid hourly.  If they weren’t able to use vacation time didn’t have money coming in.

“We’d like to have everybody working year round, so to have a week kind of in a strong shoulder month when people are missing 4-5 days of work, certainly hurts,” said Chapman.