Did weather impact business? That was the topic of discussion at a news conference in Monmouth County where officials reviewed the summer tourism season.
“On record it was probably one of the hottest summer on record since 1895, but it did rain,” said Thomas Arnone, Monmouth County freeholder director.
Tourism officials blame inaccurate forecasts for derailing what they believe should have been a profitable season.
“This year the weather threw us a curve ball. It rained 11 out of the 16 summer weekends,” said Jeanne DeYoung, director of tourism for Monmouth County. “The weather hurts us. They start predicting on Wednesday and then people begin like Thursday, Friday changing their plans already because they think that the weather is going to bad. In some cases it was, and other cases it ended up being a nice weekend.”
Despite the rain, the county’s beach badge sales for the summer were more than $19 million, which is about the same amount as last year’s sales, according to Arnone.
“If you put that in perspective and you look at $19 million for beach badges, that just looking out here and coming to visit the sand and water. There’s a lot more that comes with it. There is obviously frequenting restaurants, people staying over in lodging. All those things are compounded on the beach sales, so you look at the beach sales as somewhat of a gauge of what your total revenue was over the course of a year,” Arnone said.
According to the New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism, last year the state saw 100,920,000 visitors and tourists spent $42.8 billion dollars. The state’s projection for 2018 is 103,570,000 visitors with tourists expected to have spent $44.7 billion when all is said and done.
It’s a stark reminder that no tourists mean no business for local mom and pop shops.
“These smaller businesses without a tourism season and without the visitors probably would not be in existence as they are right now,” said DeYoung. “And it’s important for people to realize that approximately, I would say over 70 percent of their business is done during the months of May through November.”
Wirin is the owner of Bungalow Road on Main Street and says tourists don’t just impact sales in the summer.
“If we don’t have the clients coming in we don’t have a business,” said business owner Kara Wirin. “I would say 40 percent of our customer in the summer are tourists, and I would say 20 percent the rest of the year are tourists,” she said.
It’s a reminder that tourism doesn’t end in the summer.
“Now we are in October so everybody’s advertising pick your own pumpkin, so come to Monmouth County even in the non-summer season. We are a four season destination,” DeYoung said.