Today marks the second anniversary of the hurricane that swamped the state. We routinely report on what hasn’t yet recovered. Since Sandy, the Federal Emergency Management Agency says it’s allocated more than $113 million for boardwalk and beach repair. Official 2014 tourism numbers won’t be available until February, but projections had 2 million more visitors down the shore than 2013 who spent 4.3 percent more. The Jersey Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Executive Director Robert Hilton told NJTV News Anchor Mary Alice Williams that the Jersey Shore is going to do even better next year than this past year in tourism.
Hilton said that some of the towns that were hit the hardest by Sandy were Lavallette, Ortley Beach and some areas of Seaside Heights, but primarily Ortley Beach is one of the areas that may still need some help.
Asbury Park, Belmar and Red Bank bounced back quickly after Sandy and Hilton said that has to do with some of the plans they had in place prior to the storm. He said a lot of towns, like Seaside Park, did not have plans. He said that last year, a lot of towns found themselves asking what the assets of the town are and what the town has to offer the public and how to go about actively marketing the town. He said that he thinks Asbury Park, Belmar, Red Bank and Seaside Park actively worked to provide the public information as far as where those towns were in the recovery process.
Even one year after Sandy, tourism generated $35.9 billion of the state gross domestic product, which is almost 7 percent of the entire state economy. Hilton said that he thinks the state is going to do even better than that next year. He said he thinks that as long as the towns continue to hold festivals and events, when the numbers come out in February, the findings will be that day trip attendance is up, beach badge sales are up and the festival attendance will be up.