Wouldn’t the Myrtle Beach Tourism Benefit Tax draw more residents into our city and increase our tax payer base?
Shai David is the former owner of The Oasis Motels Complex and the current owner of several
properties in the downtown area and throughout the city. Mr. David has been asked by many
residents and business owners to run for city government. He is humbly considering running in
2017. His response here is in regards to the resident sponsored Myrtle Beach Tourism Benefit Tax
Letter to the Editors MyrtleBeachSC.com – Myrtle Beach Tourism Benefit Tax
Reputation will take you so far…
MyrtleBeachSC.com met this week with several local business owners to get their reactions and
comments on the Myrtle Beach Tourism Benefit Tax article posted by the Sun News. As a key business owner in the Super Block with multiple properties, I now submit the following letter to the editors of MyrtleBeachSC.com.
A business can never survive on advertising alone; reputation will take you so far but there has to
be substance as well. For example, you can advertise a restaurant all you want but if the food is
crappy it is just a matter of time before it will close its doors.
Another example is of a hotel that may be located in the most beautiful place ever and spends
thousands on advertising but if it’s not safe, if it is bedbug infested, falling apart, and overall
dirty, although arrived, no one will want to stay. And arriving and staying are two different
things when it comes to generating revenues. Today’s consumer is much more informed and has
the ability to find the relevant information in lightening speeds.
The opposite is true as well. I personally keep coming back to many “holes-in- the-wall”
restaurants that don’t spend a penny on advertising, don’t have fancy anything, don’t even have a
website, but have amazing food.
Similarly, I have kept many cars before that have had very high mileage, rust everywhere, and
overall looked like they came back from a demolition derby, yet were reliable and dependable.
The point is, appearance, facade, and riding an old reputation will take you so far and then comes
substance. You can spend millions on advertising and promotions, get millions of tourists to
come over, but what is the point if many of them don’t come back?! What is the point if once
arrived they choose to cut their losses and leave early to go somewhere else?!
How do I know that many tourists choose not to come back? For one, my own personal
experience of talking to thousands of visitors over the past 5 years. Lots of visitors to local
hotels/motels simply don’t come back a second time. ‘Maybe it’s the particular motel/hotel or
particular business the tourists don’t want to come back to, maybe it’s only individual
businesses?’ you may ask. I am more than willing to entertain this valid argument. My answer to
this is: Then why does the city of Myrtle Beach continue to spend $20 million each year on
outside advertising alone instead of investing in ideas like the Myrtle Beach Tourism Benefit Tax? After all, if it is true that we host 17 million visitors during one year and only a 1/3 of them come back, that almost 6 million additional visitors the second year. Added to the 17 million random visitors that the advertising attracts, and you should get 23 million visitors. If 1/3 of those folks come back?, now we are close to 8 million additional visitors –
added to the 17 million new tourists and we are close to 25 million. And that’s only at the end of the 2nd year!!
One can see how if the pattern repeats, where we even get a tiny portion of repeat business added
to new business, math dictates that the number of tourists will exponentially increase to
un-imagined proportions and thus there will be no need to advertise.
The fact that the Chamber had been spending millions upon millions in continued advertising for
the past 50 years or so is proof enough to me that the majority of visitors simply don’t come back
to our city. Add to that the many beautiful, centrally located, commercial properties that have
been sitting vacant for years all along Kings Highway and the downtown area in general and one
can easily recognize a dire situation that needs an immediate attention.
Also, let’s look at our tourism as an income generating business. What business needs to spend
that much money on advertising after being ‘in operation’ for decades?! Wouldn’t that business
have enough of a good reputation and merit to bring new and repeat customers on its own,
without spending millions on advertising? And if decades later, it still needs to spend those
millions, is it really profitable/cost-effective, and would this business last?!
And here is an interesting fact (and I am not trying to be mean, ignorant, disrespectful, or
discriminate against anyone). Why is it that the homeless population seems to grow each year
and more and more outside “visitors” flock into our great city like some “homeless Mecca?” I
don’t know it for a fact, but I don’t believe the Chamber spends any money advertising in
homeless shelters around the country to bring more homeless persons into our city, yet, by the
city’s own merit (all the great services we provide for them) they come. Again, I truly am not
saying this to be funny or ignorant, but how come they pick our city without any advertising at
all?! Yet few new residents are moving into the historic downtown area and many of our local policemen live outside the city limits. Wouldn’t the Myrtle Beach Tourism Benefit Tax draw more residents into our city and increase our tax payer base?
One resident sponsored solution is the Myrtle Beach Tourism Benefit Tax. If state government should reject that idea, however:
Take the entire $20 million that is being spent annually on ‘outside advertising’ and spend it
strictly on beautifying the city and I can guarantee everyone that we won’t have to do any
advertising whatsoever. What good is it to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in a few short
years to bring tourists to the city and when they finally come, many of them never want to come
back because of the crime, lack of parking, lack of family attractions, and overall lack of class
and elegance one expects to experience in a beach, touristy town?
I would start by taking the 20 million dollars and buying every single dilapidated property in the
down town area. I would turn many of the properties into beautiful, well lit, well designed,
FREE, city owned parking lots. The rest of the properties I would give away for free. Yes, I said
it correctly, give away for free. Give those properties to any individuals/companies that can show
a sought-after/highly- desired developmental plan for improving the city. After all, the tax
revenues generated from such structures and businesses will far exceed the nominal “donation”
made by the city.
Additionally, from the same ‘No-More- Advertising’ money pool, set aside grants to
entrepreneurship and innovation made by small but capable and determined business men and
women. Let the American Dream along with hard work and determination to succeed pave the
road on which tourists will come instead of spending money on selling dreams and illusions.
Throughout my life, I have never seen a single piece of advertising for Nantucket, the beautiful
isolated island off Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Yet, a 1000 square feet bungalow sells for millions
of dollars. Why is it that we spend millions of dollars per year on advertising and are still labeled
“Dirty Myrtle,” “Mental Beach,” “Redneck Riviera,” “Murder Beach,” “Zombie Land,” etc.?
Anyone who loves our city, like I do, should be outraged by theses derogatory labels, and an
overall murky image, and insist that we do something to change that image before no amount of
advertising money will help.
Finally, look at our police department, which is a great reflection in my opinion of an overall
mentality for caring more about visitors then caring for our own first. Our officers are working
for literally what I consider minimum wage. Many of them have to work second and even a third
job just to put food on the table and pay bills. Would the police department have to work so hard
on advertising for recruiting officers had our officers been paid competitive wages? And once
recruited, would the department have any difficulty (like they do currently) retaining those new
officers had the city paid them well and gave them the respect they deserve?! (By the way, I
believe our police department should be at the top 5 most paid departments in the state).
Investing in our local men and women, who honorably serve our community, will not only
ensure a constant flow of highly trained and highly qualified officers from around the country,
but will also allow for a large retention of our current officers.
This shift in perception will shine a light on the greater picture that seems to elude some in
power. Don’t be so quick to dismiss the present in search of the new and better. Like those
children who throw away an old toy as soon as they get a new one; let’s take care of what we
have first before by spending our hard earned money within. Let’s learn from our mistakes and
use them to grow better, not just to grow old. The Pavilion and Broadway at the Beach could
both have existed in harmony; one was no threat of the other. After all, life is a journey not a
I believe our city has the potential to be the number one tourist destination in the country. I want
to have great faith in our leaders, and hope to see positive changes in the near future. Many
families count on those changes; I know mine does.
“Invest within” is my motto, “the rest will follow.” Forget the fluff, concentrate on substance.
Invest in people and communities not on ads!
Shai David is one of over 25 area merchants, policemen, firemen, residents and tourism workers who support the RESIDENT’S RIGHTS INITIATIVE. Learn more by emailing this team at Residents@ResidentsRights.org.