BELMAR — Even the threat of rain can hurt a Jersey Shore business for a day or an entire weekend. And when it's actually raining, the financial pain can be even worse.

But officials in Monmouth County hope would-be visitors don't just stay cooped at home when the weather is far from ideal. So ahead of the 2019 summer season, they're promoting the entire county as the place to be.

"It's not this beautiful everyday. We hope it is, but it's just not going to happen," said Freeholder Director Thomas Arnone during a Monday morning summer kick-off event along the Belmar boardwalk.

Rain fell in the county during 11 of the 16 summer weekends in 2018. Still, visitor spending increased for the year to $2.6 billion. According to the New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism, 8.6 million visitors made their way to Monmouth County in 2018 — an increase from 8.2 million estimated visitors in 2017.

"Monmouth County offers visitors much more than just a trip to the Jersey Shore," Arnone said. "Monmouth County is also known for its downtowns, arts and entertainment, cultural and historical sites, dining, shopping and outdoor activities."

Monday's event featured Count Basie Center for the Arts, the No. 1 seated venue in the Garden State.

President and CEO Adam Philipson said about 250,000 people come through the Red Bank theater's doors annually. Plenty of those visits occur between Memorial Day Weekend and Labor Day Weekend.

"The economic impact that the Basie has alone as one sole venue is probably close to $20 million a year," Philipson said.

Arnone also highlighted indoor amusement center iPlay America, located in Freehold, which recently added a Topgolf Swing Suite to its list of offerings.

Several mayors from the shore region were on hand for the event as well.

The tourism industry creates over 23,000 jobs in the county over the summer, Arnone said. If the industry didn't exist, he said, residents would be paying an extra $1,500 in taxes.

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