This past year will be forever remembered as a year like no other. The pandemic shut down the world. Hotels were closed for almost two months, events were cancelled, and many of our attractions were closed most of the year. Tourism is the economic lifeblood of the Myrtle Beach area providing $7 billion in economic impact throughout our 14 communities.
This year, there is more reason than ever to celebrate the collective strength of the U.S. travel and tourism industry and its dynamic workforce. The 38th National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW) takes place May 2-8, 2021 and spotlights the collective strength of the U.S. travel industry and the critical role our industry will play in bringing back our vibrant communities, restoring the economy, rebuilding our workforce, and reconnecting America. The power of travel will help drive Myrtle Beach, and other destinations, to a quick recovery.
We are familiar with the tourism industry prior to the pandemic – a powerful economic engine, supporting jobs and driving local economies in every pocket of America. The industry had experienced 107 straight months of growth, generated $2.6 trillion in economic output, supported 17 million American jobs and delivered a $51 billion trade surplus to the U.S. Unfortunately, that strong growth trend plummeted last year due to the pandemic.
However, Myrtle Beach and our travel industry—are resilient. Here in Myrtle Beach, even though our numbers were down in 2020, we still saw impressive growth for the unprecedented times with $11.4 billion in gross retails sales in our area, only down 7% from 2019. Other statistics include, about $842 million in lodging gross sales and $1.29 million gross sales in the restaurants industry. Visit Myrtle Beach also introduced 23 million new travelers to Myrtle Beach to our wonderful Tourism Partners that continued to provide quality service at our restaurants, attractions, and accommodations. Please view our Convention and Visitors Bureau 2020 Annual Report for more information.
In the Grand Strand, we banded together with our 14 communities and lifted each other up, helped each other, and devoted ourselves to supporting local businesses and travel industry. We are incredibly grateful for the Myrtle Beach community and the ways in which everyone has helped in jump starting the tourism engine. The video below, produced by US Travel, features many in the travel industry who proclaim the power of travel! It includes Julie Ellis from the Visit Myrtle Beach team!
As we reopen in Myrtle Beach, we ask that you visit responsibly, practice social distancing and enjoy our clean, wide-open beaches safely when you’re ready. With 60 miles of beautiful beaches, there is plenty of room to spread out. We will be ready for anyone seeking a new adventure and those who will be looking for opportunities to relax and find new places to strengthen connections with family and friends. You can find up-to-date information on our Healthy Travel page.
We would not be the exciting community and beautiful destination we are without the local residents and visitors who call Myrtle Beach, The Beach. From all of us at Visit Myrtle Beach, we are so excited to share the full power of our industry—and the strength and spirit of the Grand Strand this NTTW.