Discover Myrtle Beach
Main > Tourism
News > As
Bike Week Looms Supporters Dig In >
Bike Week Looms Supporters Dig In
Published: May 6, 2009
many years, Myrtle Beach has become a staple
in the vacation plans for many people around
the world. With its 14.6 million annual visitors,
its estimated 2,000 restaurants and 460 hotels,
its obvious that the main driving force
behind the success of the Grand Strand is
its tourist operations.
a city where tourism is the cash cow among
most of its residents, one might think that
its city council and major decision makers
would have the citys business owners
and residents best interests in mind
when it comes time to vote on laws and regulations
that affect the population that they are sworn
it seems that Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes
and the city council are doing the exact opposite.
Along with the controversial helmet law that
has recently been put into effect for the
2009 Bike Week, Myrtle Beach City Council
has changed the rules on vendor and special
events permits and is now trying to push for
a 1% sales tax increase on visitors and residents
a day where the economy is as grim as ever;
money is tighter than it has been in decades
and vacations are being placed lower on family
priority totem poles, one might think that
the decision makers in the southeastern United
States premier vacation destination
would take heed and try to pass laws and regulations
to help Myrtle Beach survive this recession
and not hurt it.
Beach business owners are not going down without
a fight. Shortly after the only city in South
Carolina to make restrictions on the wearing
of helmets on a motorcycle took place, a group
of around 60 business owners started a non-profit
organization called BOOST, Business Owners
Organized to Support Tourism.
Public Relations Consultant Tom Herron said
the organization created a petition, acquired
500 signatures in six days and took a presentation
to the Horry County Council to get them to
put a hold on all of the regulations for the
2009 Bike Rally.
were just asking them to not do anything now
and BOOST can advertise to the bikers to behave,
be kind and be nice, Herron said. With
the economy in shambles, even without all
of the new ordinances we knew we would have
a bad year anyhow.
a delayed action by the county, BOOST members
thought that they could handle things by themselves
and communicate to the bikers all of the things
that city officials wanted them to know without
all of the laws and regulations changing.
said the Horry County Council first voted
6-5 to not pass the ordinances, then at the
end of the vote the chairmen took a two hour
recess, brought the vote back and voted 6-5
the other way in favor of the ordinances.
The results are harsh changes in vendor and
special events permits.
old special events ordinance used to be a
page long and it was easy to understand,
Herron said. The new one is 12 pages
long and so complex that any business owner
could break a rule on it and get their business
license pulled on the spot.
with all of the rule changes, the largest
one that Herron said business owners are afraid
of is an ordinance that restricts the gathering
of large crowds at one certain place.
larger facilities are now gonna be afraid
that 500 people will show up for fear that
they will get shut down, he said. If
they dont like the activity thats
going on, they can reject it and I dont
believe the county can decide what determines
big change is the cost and regulations behind
the 2009 vendor permits. In the past, Herron
said vendor permits are $800. He said last
year there were 360 vendors that bought permits
and so far this year, only 42 vendors have
signed up. "That means the 42 vendors
generated only $33,600...as opposed to something
like $300,000 last year."
have also been put into effect to spread the
vendors out from Murrells Inlet to Little
River and out to the West Waccamaw area in
order to not congest the city of Myrtle Beach.
A noise ordinance has also been put into effect
to limit live bands to play at establishments
from only 2 to 5 p.m.
whole thing is insanity, Herron said.
What they are doing is uniformly picking
on certain businesses so that they will be
so miserable that they fail or break laws
and they can prosecute them more easily.
follow bikers, not the other way around. The
bikers dont come for the vendors and
the vendors certainly dont change biker
habits. The cost of the vendor permits dont
really matter because they make money anyhow,
but a lot of them decided not to apply this
year once they found out they had to be in
places like Loris.
said that according to Coastal Carolina University
economists, the average biker spends $118
daily, which adds up to $20 million per day.
CCU says that bike week brings in somewhere
between $150 - $200 million to the local economy
overall. But according to CCU, the current
reservations for the upcoming 2009 Bike Week
are down 40% from what they usually are at
citys done a great job of making sure
that everybody in the United States knows
we dont want bikers in Myrtle Beach,
Herron said. What theyre doing
is promoting selective tourism.
I mean, its only 10 days a year. Big
Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride agrees with
Herron and disagrees with what his former
city council is doing to turn away tourism.
who served as Myrtle Beach mayor from 1993
to 2005 said the city wants to put an end
to the Atlantic Beach Bike Rally on Memorial
Day weekend but cant, so they took the
easy way out and made ordinances to slowly
shut down both.
first mistake is not admitting that the two
groups are different, McBride said.
is a four-day street party and the other is
an organized event. Its two different
events with two totally different behaviors
and the city is afraid to stand up and say
truth is that the two rallies are radically
different, he said. There is a
huge income and behavior descreptency. The
Atlantic Beach biker crowd for the majority
is in their early twenties and the average
Harley Davidson bike rider is in their mid
forties. There is a huge difference between
a 22-year-old and a 45-year-old, but its
politically incorrect to try to control one
and not the other.
straw that broke the camels back was
the shooting death of 20-year-old CCU student
Corey Brooks last year by the hands of 17-year-old
Conway resident Keion Griffin, who was let
off on bail at the time for assault and battery
with the intent to kill and assault and battery
of a high and aggravated nature. Brooks was
white, Griffin is black.
shooting is just what they needed, Herron
said. If that wouldnt have happened,
none of this would have taken place. It just
happened to happen when it happened, but the
city thought this is our chance to shut
shooting gave them the best excuse to hide
behind, he said. Every year the problems
get worse. There have always been shootings
in the past but the bullet has never landed
the past, bikers of all genres had a bad rap
because of their rowdiness and all of the
crazy stories that were told about the crimes
that biker gangs such as the Hells Angels
and the Pagans were involved in.
said that those bikers are a thing of the
past but the stereotype still lingers and
bikers of today should not be frowned upon
like they used to.
than anything, the citys sending a bad
message that just because youre a Harley
rider, youre a bad guy, he said.
What theyre doing is insulting
a tremendous base of people. Many Harley riders
come down, buy homes and timeshares, and invest
in the town.
a mature group of people and being a biker
is part of America. Its a freedom. Harley
Davidson is a brand name like Coca Cola. What
are they gonna do next, ban Coke?
questionable bill that the Myrtle Beach City
Council is trying to pass is a 1% tax increase,
raising the citys sales tax to 9% which
is something that McBride said could put Myrtle
Beach in grave danger when it comes to competing
with other vacation destinations.
said the 1% sales tax hike is designed to
help advertise the Grand Strands hotels
and golf courses in larger out-of-town markets.
this penny tax gets passed, Myrtle Beach would
have a higher sales tax than New York City,
McBride said. It would bring an 11.5%
food tax, which is over 5% more than Miami
and South Beachs 6% food tax. This will
hurt us. And its not right to go to
Lowes in Myrtle Beach to buy a hammer
and have 1% go to advertising some golf course
in North Carolina.
who was the citys youngest mayor ever
has had the last four years to watch the city
that he once helped blossom slowly sink back
towards the ranks of mediocrity and said he
is not going to sit back and watch it deteriorate
in the hands of the wealthy.
out of control, he said. The same
group of people that are trying to kill bike
week are the ones that are trying to push
this penny tax.
defeated McBride in 2005 and since has been
the captain behind the ship that is trying
to get rid of Mays biggest tourist draw
and the third largest reason that people visit
Myrtle Beach behind its beaches and golf courses.
bikers took credit in defeating me due to
a statement I had made in the Sun News,
McBride said. When Rhodes was elected,
he said as long as Im mayor, there
will be a bike week and he as completely
done a 180 degree turn.
the future of May bike week looks grim, McBride
reminds people that the only way things can
change is for the people to get out and vote
hasnt been an election since all of
these laws have passed, McBride said.
whats next for Myrtle Beach and bike
week? What can BOOST and other groups like
it do to prevent the extermination of a week
that hundreds of thousands of people look
forward to annually? Can anything be done
at this point to curve its annihilation?
said that BOOST has raised a lot of money
for out-of-market advertising including running
ads in bike magazines and running airplane
banners at the Daytona Beach bike week with
the slogan May is On with the
intent to let everyone know that there is
in fact going to be a 2009 bike rally in Myrtle
Beach. BOOST has even bought ads on a dozen
billboards throughout the Grand Strand welcoming
bikers at all entry points.
of the people thought that the Myrtle Beach
bike week was cancelled by the mayor,
Herron said. Weve hired legal
council and filed a law suit and after the
May rally is over, were going to get
political, get people and promote tourism.
(They) are not going to stop our business
community from making money.
Mark Kruea, the Public Information Officer
for the City of Myrtle Beach, was unavailable
for comment and did not respond to our message
in time for print.