Porter brings Myrtle Beach closer to home Adam Wilcox, Kimberly Miles, Elaine Michaud, Scott Schult, Danna Lilly, Kimberly Hartley, Steve Mays. 25 JAN 2010: Have your clients been asking about an affordable sun destination nearby? Well Myrtle Beach, South Carolina just got closer. Last week a Myrtle Beach contingent was in town and teamed with Porter Airlines, to share big announcements at an event held at the CN Tower.

The sun hub, famous for its golf and The Grand Strand, used to be a 19-hour crawl for some. They’d pack the mini-van and as one insider says, “We could always tell the Canadians because they’d have salt caked on the vans and the colour would be ten shades lighter.”

No more. Starting February 28-May 30, Porter Airlines is offering an easy two-hour flight twice-weekly (Thursdays and Sundays) from Toronto’s newly renamed Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport .

As Adam Wilcox, sales manager for the much talked about airline said, Porter is banking on the exceptional traveller’s experience. “On board you get premium snacks, beer or wine, extra leg room, leather seats all at no extra cost.

“Porter is the only airline that offers non-stop service direct to Myrtle Beach,” Wilcox added.

Porter Airlines will also service Montreal, Quebec City and Thunder Bay.

Scott Schult, executive vice-president of marketing for the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, wants us to know you can put your feet in sand five minutes away from the Myrtle Beach International Airport (MYR).

“We’re a strong value destination. We have a lot of diverse experiences specifically geared for families and can accommodate just about anybody with all our experiences.” Think affordable accommodations, attractions, and dining.

Scott reports Canucks rate number one among their international visitors. “Canada comprises 85% of our visitor base with Ontario being the largest.”

Kimberly Hartley (a familiar face we welcome back and wish her well) was introduced as the destination’s new Canadian account manager. “I can’t say enough about her. She is going to do wonders for our destination,” Scott explained about his longtime colleague he has known for over 10 years.

Kimberly is thrilled and has plenty of ideas on how to get Canadians down there. “It is a destination whether or not you want to golf. It’s a place for Canadians to go to. It has an annual 24 Celsius temperature and as Canadians, we love that, especially this time of year,” she said, adding the dollar at par (great exchange rate) makes this a great value destination where you will “get your dollar’s worth.”

Golf is king in Myrtle Beach. Steve Mays, senior director of marketing for GolfHoliday.com, compared Florida (our other favorite US sun destination) with Myrtle Beach. “It’s quality and quantity. We have seven of the top 100 public golf courses in the United States located in that 60 mile stretch. Florida has four public golf courses in the entire state that rank in the top 100.”

Golf clients can get into the swing with the upcoming Golf.com World Amateur Handicap Championship, the world’s largest says Mays.

“Over 4,000 amateur golfers come down. Among them over 500 international players with 100 from this market,” he said about the PG tour type of event for the everyday golfer scheduled August 30-September 3.

Canadians can also expect a new mile long boardwalk along Oceanfront Boardwalk and Promenade planned between the 14th Avenue North Pier and the Second Avenue North Pier, extending all the way to First Avenue. The grand opening of the estimated US$6-million project is set for June.

“That’s going to add to the incredible experience to downtown for our visitors. We have been able to re-invest in our downtown,” Scott concludes.

From the top: Team Myrtle Beach, Adam Wilcox, Porter flight attendants, Kimberly Mills, Scott Schult, Kimberly Hartley

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Ilona Kauremszky

A regular contributor to Travel Industry Today, Ilona is a prize winning journalist whose writing pursuits have taken her around the globe.

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