MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) - The summer tourism season got off to a slow start in the Myrtle Beach area because northern and Midwestern schools had to make up days in June because of last winter's frequent snows.

The Sun News of Myrtle Beach reports ) that researchers at Coastal Carolina University report that from the last week in May through the first week in July, occupancy was down about 3 percent at hotels and campsites, compared with the same six weeks last year.

Occupancy in vacation rental properties was down almost 6 percent and revenue per available room was down more than 4 percent from the same period a year ago.

Some schools in New York had classes through the end of June as districts worked to make up snow days.

"Everyone kind of lost half of June," said Jim Eggen, the general manager for Myrtle Beach Seaside Resorts, a group of six hotels that have about 850 guest rooms.

It wasn't just snow days being made up in June that has put a crimp in business. Hurricane Arthur blew by the Grand Strand just as the Fourth of July weekend was getting underway.

"We definitely would have had a better Fourth of July if that hadn't happened," Eggen said.

But things are looking up for the final weeks of the summer season.

"July has been strong for us and while we're still booking heavily for August, we're optimistic about the month," said Matt Klugman of Myrtle Beach Resorts.

Klugman said he expects this summer will, in the end, be better than last year.

The Grand Strand is the heart of South Carolina's $18 billion dollar tourism industry.

Information from: The Sun News, http://www.thesunnews.com