NJ Towns Want Tourism Campaign [AUDIO]
Superstorm Sandy devastated some Jersey shore towns, but many others did not suffer major damage, and local leaders want to get the word out to visitors that they're up and running.
Several tourism and marketing directors are calling on Jersey lawmakers to pass legislation that allocates 20 million dollars for tourism marketing.
Vicki Clark, the President of the Cape May County Chamber of Commerce, says, "Our area of Cape May County has been open for business since the weekend after the storm - it's very, very important that we get that image out there - that we change what people are saying in the national media, we turn it around and let them know that we are open for business…Tourism is our number one industry- it provides 25 thousand jobs in an area of only 90 thousand residents."
Mary Lou Halberson President, NJ Restaurant Association says, "A well-funded campaign is needed to change the image of the Jersey shore being closed."
"It's important to the businesses," she says, "because without visitors our businesses won't be open, it's important to the residents because 90 percent of who we employ are New Jerseyans…We employ more than 300 thousand people just in the restaurant industry alone, so if our restaurants aren't open, then people aren't working."
Alex Hollywood, the Executive Director of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce, says Middlesex County is a great part of the Garden state - "we're the home of Rutgers University, we have two convention centers in our region, we have many hotels to choose from for all types of people - Middlesex County is a top flight location destination for visitors, whether they're with their families or if they're event coordinators for business travelers - it's a great place to come…some sections of Jersey have been badly damaged, but there's also other sections of New Jersey that are open and we're back to business and we're a great place to come to and make sure that people are spending their dollars here."
Lori Pepenella, the Destination Marketing Director of the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce agrees.
She says the reality is "Long Beach Island is fine - we're ready, we're actually doing a chocolate week event February 9th we have hotels open, activities, murder mystery dinners - everything going on… it's very important to pass the 20 million dollar tourism marketing appropriation to help the Division of Travel and Tourism get the money - they need to tell the world that Long Beach Island is open as well as the rest of New Jersey…a lot of people are under the impression that the entire shore and all tourist locations were wiped out by the hurricane - which just isn't true, and we get it every day - and certainly it's our challenge to turn that around."