Tourism Officials Concerned About Summer Season

By Phil Gregory, WBGO News
Trenton. January 14, 2013

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Maylou Halvorsen and Diane Wieland testify before Assembly Tourism Committee (photo by Phil Gregory)

Tourism officials in Jersey Shore towns are concerned about how Sandy might affect the summer season.

Vicky Clark is president of the Cape May County Chamber of Commerce. She told the Assembly Tourism Committee that businesses along the shore in South Jersey opened quickly after Sandy, and they’re concerned how the perception of widespread damage along the entire Jersey coat might affect the summer season.

 “Without tourism in Cape May County we are looking at looking at an unbelievable and unacceptable unemployment. Tourism is our industry in Cape May County. It’s where our people work. It’s how they sustain themselves throughout the year.”

Cape May County Tourism Department director Diane Wieland says increased efforts are needed to attract summer vacationers to the shore.

 “Day trips are not what we need. We need to be able to able to promote. We need to promote to our outer markets. Understandably the farther you come the longer you’re going to stay, and they’re all generating occupancy tax.”

Marylou Halverson with the New Jersey Restaurant Association says most of the shore businesses in hard-hit Ocean and Monmouth Counties are taking steps to reopen.

 “They’ll be ready probably by Easter. Those boardwalks are repaired or they will be repaired, and the rides will be back up, and the Jersey Shore will be open for business. The perception is that the Jersey Shore is closed. We do need an active, I don’t want to call it an advertising campaign, I want to call it an awareness campaign to negate all that negative publicity.”

The local tourism officials are urging state lawmakers to approve a bill that would provide $20 million in emergency supplemental funding for more advertising and marketing.

Assemblywoman Celeste Riley says it has to be shown that’s in the best interests of the whole state.

“We’re going to take money away from other areas because we are financially having difficulties.  So we have to show why it’s going to benefit us in the long run and it’s actually going to supplement those areas that we’re taking out from.”

Assembly Tourism Committee chairman Matt Milam says increased marketing is needed.

“If we don’t invest in marketing this state, tourism dollars aren’t going to be there to grow. It’s probably the second maybe the third largest revenue stream this state has. You have to invest in your revenue streams.”


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