With summer visitors eager to feel the sand beneath their feet, Delaware beach towns are expecting an estimated seven million guests this summer.
“Hotels and motels are telling us that their pre-booking reservations for this summer, May [and] forward, are up considerably,” explained Carol Everhart, president and CEO of the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce.
In addition, Everhart reported that requests for beach information are up from last year, with 13,000 in the first quarter of 2013 and over 20,000 for the same period of time this year.
State officials said those numbers could mean a profitable summer season for Delaware.
“Tourism is an outstanding industry in our state,” said Alan Levin, director of the Delaware Economic Development Office. “It is our fourth-largest industry, generating $2.2 billion in revenue for our state.”
About half of that money will be spent along Delaware’s Atlantic Coast in Sussex County.
Levin said visitors spend an average of about $586 during their trips to Delaware, with more than half of that money going back into local economies.
Levin added that tourism is also a job creator, employing nearly 39,000 people across the state.
Travel tips from DelDOT
With a sixfold increase in the state’s population during the summer months, the Delaware Department of Transportation urges travelers to use the DelDOT mobile app to monitor traffic patterns and to avoid congested roads.
“Some of the things we have in place to help ease traffic would be new technologies that are controlled through our Transportation Management Center up in Smyrna,” said Rob McCleary, chief engineer at DelDOT. “They include constant monitoring of traffic sensors and cameras to adjust traffic signal timing and communicate real-time road conditions.”
DelDOT officials also advise traveling during off-peak hours and making travel plans around a few of the state’s important event dates. This year, these dates include the NASCAR events at the Dover International Speedway, which run May 29-June 1, and the Firefly Music Festival, held June 19-22 in Dover.
Both events are known to cause major traffic delays along Route 1.
McCleary added that destinations south of Dewey Beach are easily accessible using Route 13 or Route 113.
“It allows you to miss the traffic signals and … avoid the mix of local and visitor traffic that often clog Route 1,” he said.