Atlantic City Tourism Rebounds After Sandy [POLL/AUDIO]
Superstorm Sandy made summer 2013 a challenge for most shore towns, but Atlantic City faced unique hurdles, dealing with the storm while in the midst of a major redevelopment initiative.
Jeff Guaracino, Chief Strategy Officer for the Atlantic City Alliance, says the city does not exist in a vacuum, so even though it suffered less damage compared to other shore communities, it still faced challenges with tourism.
"These people who would be visitors or tourists to the Jersey Shore, they also are Atlantic City visitors, they might do a day trip or night trip to Atlantic City for a night out," Guaracino said.
He notes that AC continued its DO AC campaign, pushing the cities dining, shopping, and other non-gaming entertainment options. Though the official numbers won't be released for several months, Guaracino says preliminary observations show visitors flocking to the boardwalk.
"Some people have commented that on Monday and Tuesday nights of the summer, the boardwalk looked like Times Square in terms of the number of people. What people were spending their money on becomes the big question mark," he wondered.
While some shore communities faced as much as 25 percent drops in summer population, Guaracino says he's seen a steady 95 percent hotel occupancy rate for summer 2013.
Guaracino points out there are still numerous events planned throughout fall and winter, the city will be continuing its $200 million dollar boardwalk enhancement, as well as welcoming the opening of Bass Pro Shops.
AC also had big returns with the Miss America pageant. Guaracino says the event brought over 200,000 people onto the boardwalk for the parade, to the delight of many merchants.
"They talked about it feeling like a Saturday in summer. They were very happy with what they reported to the Philadelphia inquirer as a revenue spike a time when they didn't anticipate it."
He notes that even though gaming revenue has been on the decline, the city is still proving attractive to people who see it as an even destination.
"You need a lot of events to draw people to Atlantic City."