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Up to 1,500 more visitors are expected to visit Walterboro during the Murdaugh murder trial. Here's what hotels are expecting.

As the Murdaugh murder trial continues, Walterboro residents have heard hotels are booking up. There's still room currently, but they're preparing for more guests.

WALTERBORO, S.C. — Day two of the Murdaugh double murder trial has ended.

Jury selection will be wrapping up soon, which means that more visitors are expected to come to Walterboro. With more people coming in from out of town, we checked in with nearby hotels to see how locals were preparing.

"Usually between January and March is dead season here. Not very many people are going on vacation," Donna Steele with the Best Western explained.

This year is a different case, she says, as the trial begins.

"It looks like people are coming in for this trial," Steele shared. "We have quite a few reservations compared to the rest of the week."

The Best Western is expecting an increase of about 20-25 more reservations starting Friday. That trend continues into Monday, with more people requesting rooms.

It’s been a slow start, according to Mickayla Aiken, who works at the Comfort Suites nearby.

"Right now you really don’t see that much people coming," Aiken said. "Like it’s mainly the reporters and stuff that’s coming for the trial."

Julia Arnold at the Hampton Inn adds that it's "just a little bit busier for sure."

Typically, Arnold explains about 60 rooms would be available. Right now, there’s only 22 left to book, but it’s mostly been taken by media. Walterboro Tourism Director Scott Grooms said that’s what he was expecting.

"The general public, because it’s just jury selection right now, is really not interested in that part of the trial because they’re not allowed in," Grooms detailed.

But when that wraps up and opening arguments begin, Grooms says he expects it to get busier. 

"We’re hoping for the business to come through but we just can never tell what’s gonna happen and when it’s gonna happen," Holiday Inn Express General Manager Minteci Williams shared.

Some residents like Jennifer Vincelli have tried helping.

"I think everybody’s trying to come together as a small town you know to get through this," Vincelli told me.

After hearing that hotels might start booking up, Vincelli decided to put her home on Airbnb, even though her family don’t have another place to stay.

"But [I'm] willing to do that to help out with you know just being able to get down to the bottom of everything," she said about the trial. "I’m realizing when I went into town yesterday and you know I saw the courthouse that it’s pretty serious stuff."

Grooms says the city is expecting anywhere from 500 to 1,500 more people to come to Walterboro once opening statements begin. This is in addition to what he says is about 150 reporters who have been at the courthouse the last two days, which he says is a "large impact on the area."

"It’ll be good for the city. I mean any kind of exposure like this that’s showing off Walterboro to the world is good exposure," Grooms added. "It’s not for a great cause but the fact is people are going to see Walterboro, see the local area, see how pretty the downtown is and hopefully stop by and visit."

Residents like Steele are looking forward to the excitement that she says will come along with more guests.

"I hope it brings more tourism, honestly. You know I’ve been here for 8 years. I love this town," she explained. "We like busy! It makes the day go by faster."

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