Jersey Shore’s Message To Public: We’re Open [AUDIO]
The Jersey Shore businesses community is taking a first step in a long journey in turning the public's perception that "the Jersey Shore is destroyed."
A meeting held in the offices of the Monmouth and Ocean Development Council in Wall Township was lead by Robert Hilton, president of the Jersey Shore Convention and Visitor's Bureau. The roundtable, also attended by CVB Chair Gary Pollack, Monmouth County Freeholder Serena DiMaso, Ocean County Planning Director Dave McKeon, Monmouth County Public Information Officer Laura Kirkpatrick, and Asbury Park Director of Commerce Thomas Gilmour.
The meeting centered on developing a strategy to let the public know the images of destruction people see of destruction along the shore, don't represent a large portion of the businesses community that is open.
"The images that are out there don't represent the Red Banks, Ocean Groves, Asbury Parks, and the Manasquan's are open and their downtowns, restaurant, and theaters are open as well," Says Hilton.
While residents in Ocean and Monmouth County could be aware of their favorite locations that are open, the goal is bringing the message to the rest of the state and country all while in search of money to do so.
"How do you get the message out there and how do you let people know what's going on, on limited budgets? A lot of the money is allocated for the immediate recovery."
Funding is a major issue for the JSCVB, who only a 111,000 a year through a grant towards marketing all of Monmouth and half of Ocean County. Hilton says working with local sponsors raises the rest of the money. They're hoping to reach out to businesses indirectly affected by the Shore for support.
"Is it food distributor, a liquor distrIbutor, is it a Coke or a Pepsi? Where can where we come up with some of that money to try and get some help?"
Hilton believes the state leadership has been great in response to the storm, however he understands New Jersey's coffers aren't limitless, especially during these times. The JSCVB head along with the other officials in attendance are hoping to appeal for federal funding by filing Request For Assistance forms.
After Hurricane Katrina New Orleans was able to secure ten million dollars in grant funding from FEMA, and the tourism officials from the Jersey Shore are using the response after the 2005 hurricane as well as the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf in 2010 as a reference on how to create rejuvenate a tourism market after a disaster.
"We'd like to meet with people or talk with people that have gone through this already and try to figure out what worked and what didn't work and what some of the lingering issues were," Points out Hilton.
Hilton acknowledges one of the issues at hand is that Tourism isn't a year round industry for New Jersey like it is in Florida or New Orleans, that means while it does give them the winter season to create a marketing campaign and allow businesses to rebuild, it also doesn't put them as high of a priority for funding.
Hilton says creating a "United Front" amongst local, county, and state officials will help them tremendously when it comes for requesting federal tourism dollars, however they first need to continue with the resources they have.