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      New report shows an increase in occupancy rates in 2013

      The Grand Strand has seen 2,000 more people a day in area hotels so far this year compared to this time last year, according to tourism expert Taylor Damonte.

      The Grand Strand's Economic Outlook bi-annual report, released Tuesday by Damonte, showed that the increase equates to more than a 2% gain in occupancy rates compared to this time last year.

      Some local establishments say they're reaping the benefits, including 'The Boardwalk Coffee House in Myrtle Beach.

      "There's an increase in numbers and of course, during the summer it's so, you know, hot outside they come in for smoothies for ice cream for anything," said barista Kathleen Loehrig.

      Loehrig added that sales alone are up more than 2% from this time last year, something that Damonte explained is not a surprise.

      "The fact that overall we've had higher occupancy suggests to me that some restaurants, not all, had improving demand."

      Damonte added that some of the reasons for the increase included infrastructure, investment in advertising and good weather the second half of the season despite a very rainy start.

      He explained the rain did not have much of an effect on this year's occupancy rates because during July most people stayed for longer periods of time and most had already planned trips.

      Even with those early season downpours, Loehrig said this is the best season the coffee house has had in the four years they've been open.

      In the 11 years the outlook reports have been released, Damonte explained that this year's occupancy rate was the highest since the report's peak year of 2006.