CHRISTIE ADMINISTRATION RELEASES REPORT SHOWING NEW JERSEY EXPERIENCED “BETTER THAN EXPECTED” 2013 TOURISM SEASON
Despite Sandy Damage And The Wettest June In History, 2013 Tourist Stats Close To Banner Year Of 2012
Trenton, NJ (January 13, 2013) – The Christie Administration today released a report detailing early indicators of the success of the Stronger Than The Storm (STTS) campaign indicating that the 2013 summer vacation season was much stronger than expected.
According to a report authored by MWW, the agency of record for the STTS Campaign, publicly available and objective third party data on hotel tax receipts, hospitality employment, beach pass sales, hotel occupancy rates, and transit activity illustrate that despite the challenges of the storm and recovery – the tourism industry overall was not only able to overcome low expectations – it was able to grow and expand in several areas.
- Hotel Tax Receipts – Although June 2013 was the wettest ever recorded in the state, overall 2013 receipts were down only 4% from 2012, which was the highest year for tourism tax receipts on record. Municipal and state hotel tax receipts were the second highest total in the last five years for the four shore counties (Monmouth, Ocean, Atlantic and Cape May) combined.
- Hospitality Employment – For the three metropolitan statistical areas that make up the shore, August hospitality and leisure employment were very close to 2012 levels or increased compared to 2012, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The anticipated loss of an estimated 11,000 tourism-related jobs in the third quarter due to the storm did not materialize.
- Beach Pass Sales – Despite significant damage from the storm, overall beach pass revenue in 2013 decreased only slightly (-3%) when compared to the previous four-year average. Beach pass revenue in particular was reflective of the various states of recovery along the shore with some towns realizing solid gains (Asbury Park, Long Branch) and others seeing significant drop-offs (Toms River, Mantoloking).
- Hotel Occupancy – The Jersey Shore summer season finished on par or better than some competing summer destinations. Data provided by STR Analytics indicates the shore matched Cape Cod’s hotel occupancy for the second two-thirds of the summer season and beat out the Delaware Shore and Nassau and Suffolk County, New York hotels in increased occupancy from 2012 and was down less than 1% year over year.
- Transit Ridership – Areas serviced by the major shore public transit alternatives all saw a boost in arrivals compared to 2012. The Coast and Atlantic City rail lines on NJ Transit experienced ridership increases from the July 4th holiday through to Labor Day, while all four major bus lines serving the shore also saw an aggregate increase in ridership over their 2012 figures. The year-over-year increase in transit ridership is a direct indicator of the STTS campaign’s success in activating this important segment of shore visitors.
The report is a preliminary assessment of several tourism industry metrics following the 2013 NJ tourism season. For more detail, please visit https://www.njeda.gov/web/pdf/STTSReport.pdf. A fuller report with additional data on the NJ tourism season is expected later this spring.
Stronger Than The Storm was developed following HUD approval of a Community Development Block Grant for Disaster Recovery (CDBG) to support the recovery of communities and small businesses in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. The EDA launched the STTS public awareness campaign on May 25, 2013, with the goal of making citizens in NJ and surrounding states aware that the Jersey shore was open for business as a vacation and day trip destination. The $25 million campaign included television and radio ads, a website, and events such as concerts and competitions in impacted communities throughout the summer. Social media was a key component of the campaign, as evidenced by more than 98,000 Facebook “likes”, 6,616 Twitter followers, and more than 83,000 video views of the STTS commercial on YouTube.
Before the campaign was launched, the outlook for the summer tourism season was uncertain. Pre-season predictions from Rutgers University estimated the state’s tourism industry would have losses of $950 million in the third quarter alone.
- More than 50% of NJ residents stated they did not believe the shore would be “back to normal” for at least three years.
- 15,600 summer rental properties reported suffering “severe” or “major” damage, which represents approximately 1.5 million potential lost accommodation nights along the shore for the peak tourism season.
- About 30% of NJ residents who have previously taken shore vacations of at least 4 days in previous summers were planning to cut back on their visits to the shore.