MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - It was a sight that you don’t see very often during spring: a nearly empty Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach.
In a time normally known to be primetime for spring breakers to take over the beach, it appeared there were more seagulls than humans on the beach at times.
The tourism industry in Myrtle Beach has been hit hard by the coronavirus. Restaurants are forced to do delivery or carry-out only. Many people are out of work.
“It makes me feel terrible,” Congressman Tom Rice said. “This is my district.”
Rice has often focused on one thing: jobs.
To see so many people out of work is a horrible turn of events for him, which is why he’s asked federal leaders for a $100 billion bailout for the tourism industry.
“I want to do what’s right for my district,” Rice said.
Rice sent a letter to federal leaders asking for the money.
The letter is addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
Rice said if the airline industry is getting $50 billion, the tourism industry deserves double that.
“People that live in resort towns like Myrtle Beach and the whole Grand Strand and the Pee Dee are terribly affected by this,” Rice said. “This put tens of thousands of people out of work.”
Rice said there’s no question that people in the tourism industry, who are seeing the impact of COVID-19, are entitled to the money he’s requested.
“Tourism will be affected far more than any manufacturing entity will, so I feel that this is entirely appropriate,” Rice said.
He has a message for anyone who is out of a job right now.
“Hang in there,” he said. “Help is coming from the federal government. And this is a short-term thing. I think it’ll be weeks rather than months.”
Rice said he’s not sure whether the $100 billion request will get approved, but he said he’s fighting hard for the people affected to make sure it does happen.