Disagreement over Atlantic City extends to divided outlook on tourism

(Emma Lee/WHYY)

(Emma Lee/WHYY)

Atlantic City’s financial crisis could hurt tourism and the summer rental business.

Unless leaders agree on a solution, Atlantic City will run out of money a week before Memorial Day, said Gov. Chris Christie. That could cause some potential visitors to stay away.

“If you’re a person that’s out of the area so you’re not reading the nuances of this, and all you see is a headline that Atlantic City is going broke or Atlantic City is out of money, people may draw a lot of wrong conclusions from that — that they can’t come there, that the casinos aren’t open,” Christie said. “That would be wrong, but they may draw those conclusions. And it could affect tourism.”

The situation may also have an economic impact on neighboring towns that rely on summer rentals, the governor said.

“It will not only hurt Atlantic City proper, but there’s no question it will affect a lot of people who own homes and who rent those homes out to help them support themselves could really be hurt by this.”

Mayor Don Guardian said, so far, the financial crisis is not scaring away visitors.

“Right now, it’s not. We don’t see the numbers going down. If you talk to our bars, our clubs, our spas, our casinos, you’re seeing that we’re having a very good month compared to a year ago,” Guardian said.

Christie is pushing for the state to takeover Atlantic City’s finances, but Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto is urging a compromise that would allow more time before the state could terminate collective bargaining agreements.

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