MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – The shooting on Ocean Boulevard that left seven people injured early Sunday morning has made national headlines, and the Chamber of Commerce fears it will drive away tourists and hurt local businesses.
“If people don’t feel safe, then they’re not going to come visit and they’re not going to move here. And that’s bad news for everyone, not just local businesses,” said Brad Dean, President and CEO of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. The city of Myrtle Beach rakes in millions of dollars from tourists who come to the city for a safe, family-friendly vacation, but Dean said all that tourist revenue is at stake after the shootings this weekend. “This damage to our reputation will extend not just for this week, but could extend past this summer. “
Dean says businesses have heard a lot of concerns from customers, and hotels have even gotten calls to cancel reservations. “We’ve been deluged at the Chamber with inquiries, not only phone calls but social media inquiries. People just wanting to know should I still feel safe in Myrtle Beach, can I still plan to bring my family there,” Dean said.
Bob Mills owns the Red Hot Shoppe on the corner of Ocean Boulevard and 7th Avenue. It’s just 2 blocks from where the shooting happened on Sunday. He says he’s worried this shooting will keep people from the area. “It’s bad for business. People feel that Myrtle Beach is not a good place to be. If heads aren’t in beds they’re not in the stores either,” Mills said.
He says he’s become accustomed to crime around his corner, and wants more officers to patrol the area. “Every Saturday night at midnight or so it feels like some mischief happens. It makes me nervous. It makes my wife nervous. It makes my employees nervous.” Dean says the Chamber is working with city officials and the Myrtle Beach police department to keep Myrtle Beach safe and attractive to visitors.
“I think right now the first and most immediate action is address the current concerns and also make sure we’re doing everything we can to address and prevent possible crimes from happening.”
The City of Myrtle Beach will have a special city council meeting on Tuesday regarding safety on the boulevard. It will be at 2:00 p.m., in Council Chambers at the Ted C. Collins Law Enforcement Center on North Oak Street. Anyone with questions or concerns is encouraged to attend.