Move for Southern 500 expected to boost tourism

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #17 Nationwide Ford, leads Danica Patrick, driver of the #10 GoDaddy Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

DARLINGTON, S.C. (AP) — The Southern 500 returning to its traditional Labor Day weekend date in Darlington is expected to boost tourism in both the Pee Dee and the Grand Strand.

NASCAR announced last week the race returns to the Labor Day weekend next year for the first time in more than a decade.

Area media outlets report officials in both the Pee Dee and the Myrtle Beach area say that will help tourism.

Both areas suffered when the race was moved in 2004. Tourism on the Grand Strand dropped about 20 percent the first Labor Day without the race.

The race has an economic impact of about $60 million in the Darlington area. Fans heading to the Labor Day race often combined it with staying a few days at the beach.