If you’re heading down the shore this weekend you’ll have lots of company.

Gas prices are a lot higher than they were last summer, but this year’s tourist season has been a big success up and down the New Jersey coast, thanks to a number of different factors.

For the most part, the weather has been great during weekends since late spring, and while inflation has pushed the price of everything higher Sandra Lazzaro, the Ocean County Public Affairs and Tourism director said there have been big crowds all on the beaches and the boardwalks.

“We have been very strong, everything that I have seen or heard this summer has been very positive,” she said.

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Lots of out-of-state visitors

She said it seems like tourists from all over the place are enjoying the Jersey Shore.

“I have seen many different license plates. I have talked to visitors from Ohio, Connecticut, definitely New York, Pennsylvania,” she said.

Diane Wieland, the director of the Cape May County Department of Tourism, said people want to go on vacation, at least for a few days, and driving is a lot cheaper than flying.

Spending a bit less

She said local hotels and motels have been busy and there have been big crowds on beaches and at different attractions all summer, but it does seem people are making some adjustments to their spending.

“A lot of that has to do with the restaurants and retail, they’re maybe not going out to the restaurants every night,” said Wieland.

“They’re doing a late breakfast, early lunch, and then they do dinner maybe when they’re on the beach or boardwalk they’ll grab a slice of pizza or a hot dog, a taco, a snack.”

She said extended families are renting houses and condos together, for several days or a while week.

“But they also have the full kitchen so they’re going to the grocery store, they’re buying groceries and they’re opting to eat in more so than they normally do.”

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Great for families

She said to help stretch family budgets, communities in Cape May County offer concerts, movies on the beach and other family activities.

Lazzaro said many tourists, especially the daytrippers, seem to really love their vacation time in the Garden State.

“They’re ordering their sausage sandwiches, they’re getting pizza, they’re enjoying the amusements on the boardwalk.”

She noted so far this summer business owners in Ocean County have not reported any downward trend in tourist spending in shops or restaurants.

Wieland noted while beaches have been a popular destination the Cape May County park and the zoo, which is free, are also attracting record crowds this season.

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