Preliminary numbers indicate strong Memorial Day

A preliminary sample of Myrtle Beach properties for the Memorial Day weekend are much higher when compared to 2010.

Occupancy rates for the three day average (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) are a little more than 90%, compared to 70% last year, according to Taylor Damonte, Director of Coastal Carolina University's Clay Brittain Jr. Center for Resort Tourism.

"We don't have a full sample yet, just over half the properties are reporting so far. So the averages may change a little bit by the end of the week, but overall, this is a strong showing," Damonte said.

Occupancy rates for Friday and Saturday night are a little more than 92% this year, compared to 88% last year. Sunday night was also strong with 89% occupancy, compared to 2010's 61%.

Damonte credits several changes with the increase in numbers. "You've got new infastructure like the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk, you've got new attractions and new events. And I'm not minimizing the possibility that we had more motorcycle-related tourists this year. We just don't do the consumer research to know who exactly was in the rooms. All we do is record the number of rooms occupied and reserved."

Gas prices didn't seem to affect occupancy numbers.

"We have never been able to identify a negative relationship between fuel prices and occupancy. Obviously, if it causes disposable income to suffer, then fuel prices could have an impact, but that usually doesn't happen overnight. It's usually six months to a year before we see that show up."

Occupancy rates from a full sample of Myrtle Beach properties will be released later this week.