Monday, October 25, 2010

NARA Review in Myrtle Beach Sun News

Horry County a top spot for retirees to relocate
By Adva Saldinger

Experts gathered in South Carolina this week to discuss active retirees and how to market destinations and properties to the growing group.

At its annual conference in Columbia, the National Active Retiree Association announced results of an analysis it did of S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles information that show Horry County as the top destination for retirees in South Carolina.

About 34,569 people 50 years and older moved to Horry County between 2002 and 2010, according to NARA.

"Horry County was the No. 1 place to retire in South Carolina," said Dan Owens, the president of NARA. "I think it's awfully appealing to people from two fronts, from Florida and New York."

Myrtle Beach offers plenty of golf opportunities and has fewer hurricanes than parts of Florida, which make it appealing to many retirees, he said.

The tourism industry has exposed a lot of retirees to Horry County and what is available in the area, Owens said.

"That may be the overall key," he said. "It's a known quantity."

The experts, officials and business people at the conference discussed building retirement housing, how to best market to active retirees and the need for tourism advertising to also appeal to the 55-plus traveler.

The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce targets retirees in tourism advertising on TV and online, said Brad Dean, the president and CEO of the chamber.

He said there is a correlation between tourism and real estate sales and that an increase in tourism ultimately drives real estate sales.

"Although the primary message for our tourism promotion is focused on driving incremental visitation to the area, we know that today's tourist can often become tomorrow's property owner," he said.

Owens said that the number of retirees moving has slowed in the economic downturn and in conjunction with the real estate collapse.

"The question is: Is there a pent-up demand for developers and towns; and is now the right time to maybe make the pitch: make your nest egg last longer by coming to the Carolinas?" he said.

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