Not So “Stronger Than the Storm!” Are You Vacationing Elsewhere? [POLL]
The shore is back, or that’s what the current campaign beckoning us back is telling us.
Are you believing it? Are you going to the shore about the same amount you used to; or have you decided perhaps to hike it down past Cape May to the Delmarva or further still?
If you have, you’re not alone. It looks as though the current campaign to get us back isn’t having the desired result.
And let’s face it. It’s your hard earned money. Spend it vacationing as you see fit. We’ve done endless hours on how Jersey shore towns screw visitors anyway; so you may be thinking, “who needs this!”
Heather Harter has a classic case of Jersey guilt.
Her family will not be vacationing at the Shore this summer after superstorm Sandy.
When she started planning her trip, the Jersey Shore was not the summer playground she remembered. Worse, the backdrops of the fun memories her children had made there last summer were still in need of major repair.
Travel articles, friends and news reports helped turn their attention south. Now the Harter family is heading to Delaware Seashore State Park this month for a week of boating, fishing and surfing, things that did not seem like a guarantee here when she started making plans this spring.
“I grew up in Monmouth County and spent summers from Keansburg to Seaside Heights. I would love for my kids to have the same experiences I have had, but I feel the work is not complete,” Harter said.
Harter, who lives in Coopersburg, Pa., about 90 minutes from the Shore, was not the only New Jersey tourist to reconsider summer at the Shore.
Tourism officials in places like Delaware and Maryland reported seeing a roughly 20 percent increase in requests for information and similar spikes in Web traffic from the New Jersey and New York areas this year despite maintaining their previous year’s advertising campaigns.
Whether that means a large number of crowds that typically come here went elsewhere will not be clear until later this year, when those groups compile tourism counts and surveys, but evidence — such as a seemingly high number of New Jersey license plates and some increases in advanced bookings — already suggests that Sandy scared some of New Jersey’s tourists south this year.
Places, especially those with plenty of boardwalk activity like Seaside Heights are feeling the pinch.
There are also fewer people visiting the borough’s beaches on a daily basis than last year.
On average, the borough pulls in about $1.2 million from beach badge sales, though last year Seaside Heights raked in $1.5 million during a "really strong" season buoyed by "phenomenal weather" and "extra notoriety from (MTV’s) ‘Jersey Shore’ and other things."
So far, daily beach badge sales have brought in $800,000, compared with $1.1 million at the same time last year,. That’s nearly a 30 percent decline.
Even on boardwalks not as badly hit as Seaside Heights, business is off.
Toby Wolf, a spokeswoman for Jenkinson’s Boardwalk in Point Pleasant Beach, said "we’re definitely seeing a dip compared to 2012."
"We had that horrible June, weatherwise," she said. "It’s been picking up a little bit, but making up all of that ground — that’s almost impossible when you have about five or six weeks of summer."
I had once asked if we as Jerseyans had this “moral obligation” to visit the shore to try and get it back on its feet.
So much for “moral obligation!”
What the hell was I thinking?