It is no secret that Myrtle Beach is highly dependent on tourists’ dollars. A 2017 study places tourist revenue at $7 billion! While many of these tourists arrive by vehicle, the same study reports that 1.1 million arrive by plane.
The recent shutdown threatened these tourist dollars by making air travel less safe. TSA agents, air traffic controllers and airline safety inspectors were among those who were being forced to work without pay, and many were unable to report to work due to the financial constraints of traveling to and from work.
Airports currently are experiencing long lines and flights are being delayed due to a lack of TSA agents and air traffic controllers. It was that dangerous situation which forced the administration to see the reality of the shutdown’s effects. And this isn’t even the tourist season. One can only imagine what could have happened should the shutdown have stretched into June or July.
And it’s not just the airlines that would be harmed. If the situation continued into the tourist season, as the administration had indicated, the damage to businesses that rely on tourism would be severely damaged. Hotels, restaurants, retailers and tourist attractions rely heavily on tourist dollars to stay afloat. Even now tourism, which depends on the “snow birds” from the north, has experienced a shrinkage. The shutdown threatened to damage that bridge between winter and summer.
If the next three weeks fail to reach an agreement, its potential impact on the local economy is ominous. Hopefully, cooler heads will eventually prevail, but until then, the sense of unease will continue as we grow closer to tourist season and the cloud of another shutdown looms.