Hilton Head Island prepares for the summer tourism season - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Hilton Head Island prepares for the summer tourism season

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HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC (WTOC) -

Plenty of people are already at the beach getting the long weekend started, and more are sure to come as the weather shapes up to be perfect for a day in the sand.

Coligny Beach was crowded today, filled with tourists and locals trying to get some fun in the sun.

Many families said they prepared to come to Coligny Beach every year, and many businesses regard Memorial Day Weekend as the official kickoff of their summer tourism season.

"We're expecting, this year occupancy is up right now for the month of April for example, up 13 percent for Hilton Head Island," said Hilton Head Island/Bluffton Chamber of Commerce member Charlie Clark. "That's higher than it is for Myrtle Beach. That's higher that it was for Charleston and many of our competitors."

This is the second time the Torquato family has vacationed on Hilton Head Island but they're leaving tomorrow morning.

"The beach, the weather, the pools, shopping…it's just a great vacation," said tourist Becky Torquato.  

Michael Duffield and his family are doing the same after vacationing here for the last eight years.

"Traffic sometimes in the summer gets a little heavy but we usually come early in the summer or the fall, early October…it's just a great place to be," he said. 

The Duffields stopped by this one-stop-shop, owned by Steve Maleh, to buy some fudge before leaving town.

"Whether it's beach toys, umbrellas, volleyballs, recently frozen yogurt has been a really big fad so I developed the store that incorporates pretty much all of the elements that someone would need to come to the beach and we call it a one-stop-shop operation," said Maleh. 

After 19 years in business, he says Memorial Day weekend serves as a good litmus test to find out what customers want most.

Many businesses are hoping the holiday combined with the great weather will be a winning combination.

And the research seems to be in their favor.  

"American Express just ranked Hilton Head as one of the seven top places, rising destinations for the coming year so people want to travel, Americans want to travel," added Clark. 

And it seems many of them are coming to Hilton Head Island time and time again.

For a list of events happening on Hilton Head Island this weekend, click on our Big Red 11 page.

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