Atlantic City makes major tourist pitch for summer
A major effort is underway to put Atlantic City back on its feet in the post-casino closing era.
Declaring Atlantic City ready for the summer tourism season, officials said they plan to focus on the beach and boardwalk to attract tourists to the resort town.
"We are declaring Atlantic City the entertainment capital of the Jersey shore. We mean everything from festivals and live music, headliners, only in Atlantic City shows, big events, sporting events and great experiences," Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian said during a teleconference on Tuesday.
The mayor said tourists will also be able to enjoy live music at beach bars, comedy acts, festivals, spas, free beaches, and people watching on what he called the city's "world famous boardwalk."
Atlantic City has received bad press for months thanks to casino closings and layoffs, and officials are hoping to get a different message out.
Atlantic City Alliance Executive Director Jeff Guaracino said they want Atlantic City to be about "people coming here for leisure and for fun."
Guaracino said despite the misconceptions that the bad news can cause, visitors are coming to Atlantic City. According to Guaracino, Atlantic City had strong demand in 2014, with increased hotel occupancy and the average daily rate.
On the gambling side, Guaracino said gaming revenues for the eight surviving casinos are improving. "The numbers are looking better."
Guardian said the city will host the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Madonna, Bob Dylan, Boyz II Men, Ricky Martin and Wanda Sykes this summer. At least 84 headliner concerts are planned and more than a thousand DJ sets.
In addition, officials are planning a beach concert for the Memorial Day weekend, similar to the one Blake Shelton gave in July 2014. The headliner is expected to be announced within the next two weeks.
Four casinos closed in 2014, victims of an expanding casino market nationwide and the shrinking amount of available gaming revenue. The closings caused deep job losses, with more than 8,000 laid off in the casino industry.