The ongoing pandemic didn’t affect travel for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in Horry and Georgetown Counties based on recent data.
For the week ending on Black Friday, vacation rental bookings in Horry and Georgetown counties increased from 44.5% booked in 2019 to 65.2% booked in 2020.
Taylor Damonte, the CCU professor who puts out the school’s weekly tourism update through the Clay Brittain Jr. Center for Tourism said the weather this year may have played a role in that increase.
“The vacation rental properties had a pretty good fall, this was the first year since 2014 that we didn’t have a major named tropical event,” Damonte said. “Vacation rental bookings were substantially above where they were for the week beginning November 21-27. They’re substantially above where they were for the equivalent week last year.”
Damonte said these numbers are based on the center’s observations of random samples of internet websites and vacation rental properties in the coastal sections of Horry and Georgetown counties. He said although vacation rental properties saw a strong week, hotels and condo-hotels aren’t seeing the same strong numbers.
“Of course the pandemic impacted tourism more broadly. The vacation rental market was quite strong this fall. While occupancy is still down a point or two for the year in the vacation rentals it is not down as much as it is in the hotels or condo-hotels,” Damonte said.
He said vacation rental properties were able to rebound from the earlier months and although December is typically a slow time for these properties, they may see strong numbers in December as well.
“Typically, occupancy in December is 20-30% and that again is the slowest month of the year. December and January are the slowest months of the year and we expect that to be the case this year,” Damonte said. “The vacation homes seem to be doing as well as they did last year if not better than they did last year during the fall and that may continue as well during December.”
Preliminary results show that for the week ending on Nov. 21, a voluntary sample of hotel, condo-hotel, and campsite properties the average percent occupancy decreased more than 9% compared to the same time last year.