MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster spoke to a group of business leaders in Myrtle Beach on Thursday afternoon.
Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Brad Dean, was there and said they are working to repair the damage to the city’s reputation.
“This most recent incident is not only a black eye for Myrtle Beach, it’s a black eye for the entire state of South Carolina,” said Dean after a shooting broadcast on Facebook Live went viral.
Dean said the first step in fixing the city’s image is to take corrective action.
“We can’t spend enough paid advertising to counter that message but if we make safety a priority, over time, we’ll be able to repair the reputational damage that’s occurred,” Dean predicts.
Dean hopes Governor McMaster and the state will help.
“He’s (the governor) going to provide more resources, but also, his State Tourism Agency is ready, willing and able to step in and help us to spread the word that we’re taking corrective action,” said Dean.
When compared to the 2014 BikeFest shootings in Myrtle Beach, Dean said this situation is a bigger challenge.
“[2014’s] was isolated to one particular event during one weekend,” said Dean. “This is much more challenging. Frankly, this is like trying to fight a forest fire with a garden hose.”
McMaster said people who live in and visit Myrtle Beach need to help fight the bad news with the good.
“You should take pictures of all the beauty that’s here and see if we can keep pace with the bad news that people seem to like to spread around,” added McMaster.
Dean said there are options from the state to help with advertising but wants to make sure law enforcement is the first priority.
“While advertising is a good investment, there’s no better investment we can make than safety, and I think right now, if we look at redirecting funds from accommodation taxes, revisiting the Tourism Development Fee law, or even possibly rededicating some of the hospitality fees to law enforcement,” states Dean.