By Terrence Casey
New Jersey sustained nearly $37 billion in damage, and about 346,000 homes were either damaged or destroyed.
Along more than 100 miles of coastline, towns dependent on their pristine beaches and classic boardwalks watched as their golden geese were beaten and washed away.
Now, with Memorial Day — the official beginning of shore season — less than two months away, shore towns and the state of New Jersey are scrambling to tell tourists that their favorite vacation spots will be (practically) back to normal in time.
At risk is nearly $40 billion in revenue, the amount brought in to New Jersey by coastal counties in 2012, according to Reuters. That accounts for about half of the state’s tourism revenue.
This week, Atlantic City announced it was going to unveil a $20 million advertising campaign via television (3,000 ads), radio (5,000 commercials) and print and online ads promoting both the casinos and the beach, according to The Associated Press.
Additionally, a “DO AC Roadshow” will travel to Philadelphia, New York and Baltimore to promote the city.
“There’s this perception out there that Atlantic City was devastated by the storm,” said Tony Rodio, president of the Casino Association of New Jersey, according to USA Today.
About two months ago, Sea Isle City started luring tourists from New York City with a “We’re Ready” ad posted above the Lincoln Tunnel. Now the Seas Isle City Chamber of Commerce is looking toward Philadelphia for its next round of advertising.
But Sea Isle City Mayor Len Desiderio told the Press of Atlantic City that his town was competing against neighboring states, not nearby shore towns.
“We want those who are looking for another option, or may not be able to go to those beaches, to stay in New Jersey,” he said. “We’d much rather them stay in the state than go to Delaware, Maryland or Virginia.”
Now, Brigantine could follow suit with an advertisement above the Lincoln Tunnel at a cost of $15,000 per month, the town’s Chamber of Commerce told the Press.
Meanwhile, signs of Sandy’s wrath still scar the coastal towns.
The bridge between Sea Isle City and Avalon is still closed to traffic, as chunks of pavement 20 feet wide or several feet deep are completely missing from the road on the Avalon side.
Vehicles can still travel between the islands by heading back onto the mainland, and pedestrians and cyclists are welcome to use the bridge.