Jersey Shore Fighting Perceptions After Sandy [AUDIO]
The winds, rains, and flood water have come and gone, but many towns along the Jersey Shore are finding that public perception is doing the most damage post-Sandy.
The State of New Jersey, various destination marketing organizations, colleges, municipality, and county tourism boards all joined in a unified meeting in Ship Bottom held by the Sea Grant Consortium to deliver a simple message, "We are open for business."
Grace Hanlon, executive director of the New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism, says this spring they will be launching a campaign within the state and across the country (and parts of Canada) to spread the message via TV, radio, social, and media that the shore is open.
She says even within New Jersey, many residents have misconceptions about the state of the Jersey Shore.
"My family own family have misconceptions about the Jersey Shore being open…It's a problem."
Hanlon reminds that much, if not most, of the stores, restaurants, and hotels at the shore are already re-open. She advises residents simply call ahead and begin visiting their favorite businesses right away.
"I think you're going to be very pleasantly surprised because so many businesses are open, especially when you're three blocks back from the boardwalk."
Bob Hilton, President of the Jersey Shore Convention & Visitors Bureau, acknowledged that while Monmouth and Ocean County did get harder than anywhere else in the state, he said the infrastructure is there and most of the businesses are open.
He adds that Jenkinson's and Asbury Park are actually adding attractions and businesses in preparation for the summer.
Representatives from Atlantic and Cape May Counties spoke about the after effect from the iconic photos after Sandy. Diane Wieland, Director of the Cape May County Department of Tourism, says Cape May and Atlantic County suffered very minor damage from Sandy.
She notes, while the images were important, they created an image of the Jersey Shore that wasn't necessarily accurate.
"When you talk about the Jersey Shore, there's a hundred and twenty-seven miles and while those were devastating they were not in Cape May County. "
Weinland says out-of-state vacationers often don't know the difference between the different venues at the shore.
"And their perception of the Jersey Shore is where they go so when they see something that says "The Jersey Shore" they think it's where they vacation."