Saturday’s first editorial breathes a sigh of relief that some of the controversy about the biker rallies seems to be calming down.
After a few years of turbulence, it seems the area’s bike rallies may be reaching a more comfortable equilibrium.
Most numbers are still being crunched, and there’s still one big rally to go, but the early reports seem positive thus far, with bikers reporting that they found this year’s Harley-Davidson rally more enjoyable, and much of the hospitality industry reporting increased business. With Myrtle Beach’s helmet law gone, there was no organized boycott of the city this year, which undoubtedly helped.
On Thursday, the president of the Myrtle Beach Area Hospitality Association said that the anecdotal reports he’s received are encouraging. “Overall it seemed like that it was good,” Stephen Greene said. “But also, it seemed like a mixture depending on the area.” Greene said hoteliers were telling him that they’re seeing more business, but not just from bikers. Families and couples also filled hotels in the last couple of weeks, a sign perhaps that the city’s active promotion of rally alternatives is paying dividends.
Taylor Damonte, director of the Clay Brittain Jr. Center for Resort Tourism at Coastal Carolina University, cited some of those alternatives as a possible reason for occupancy gains in the lodging report he sent out this week. The center’s surveys found that occupancy was 6.4 percent higher in the first three weeks of May than during the same time last year, and the revenue generated by each room was up 12.9 percent. The center is also forecasting increases for this Memorial Day weekend.
But despite the good news, the rally thus far has generated bad tidings as well, chief among them the deaths of at least three motorcyclists on the roads. As motorcycles continue to fill our streets, extra attention to your surroundings and your fellow travelers is due. Many celebrations and gatherings will no doubt take place this holiday weekend; exercise some extra caution behind the wheel to avoid having your festivities be ruined by a preventable tragedy.