Cautious Optimism for Tourism
Efforts to make the Jersey shore more of a year-round destination appear to be working.
"You know, there are things to do every single weekend," said Robert Hilton, Executive Director of the Jersey Shore Convention & Visitor's Bureau (JSCVB). He said he's been blogging about hundreds of events taking place outside of the summer tourism season lately.
"Which I never remember, ever in the past, having so many different events for people to come down and visit and stay overnight and make a weekend out of it."
He credits the good weather for a great summer tourism season, boosting visitor spending up by an estimated 4.3% this year. However, Hilton is reluctant to paint too rosy of a picture after Superstorm Sandy because many residents are still not back in their homes. He said once in a while he gets reminders to balance his enthusiasm with reality.
"I get phone calls up from somebody who's literally still living in a trailer asking me how I can talk like that? So, if we can just be a little cognizant of the people in places that still need our help. We're here for them too." said explained.
The non-profit JSCVB has also taken a hit. Hilton acknowledges it's sponsorships and memberships have been way down since Superstorm Sandy.
"Because of the storm, we have sponsors that can't afford to do sponsorships right now because they literally took everything out of their savings to rebuild," said Hilton. "We have members that really almost didn't open up this year because of the financial crunch. So our memberships and sponsorships, which may have been a couple thousand dollars in the past every year, might be $10,000 this year."
Hilton said instead of asking for sponsorships, they remain focused on drawing visitors to the Jersey shore, letting visitors know that businesses are open and ready for them.
So how can regular Garden State residents and visitors help? Hilton offers this simple answer. "We need you to come down this winter."
For more information or to support the JSCVB visit, www.visitthejerseyshore.com
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