Reports of the Boardwalk’s death are greatly exaggerated

Atlantic City’s Boardwalk is right where it should be, right where it has been for decades. But many of those polled in the Northeast and across the country think otherwise.

During and after the onslaught of Hurricane Sandy, some reports made it seem as if the landmark had been swept out to sea.

“We had major broadcasters standing in the middle of our streets,” says Liza Cartmell, president of the Atlantic City Alliance. “Parking themselves adjacent to the area where we did have a very old, dilapidated, condemned section of a boardwalk on the inlet side wash away.

“And that was the film footage that was used for everyone.  It had nothing to do with the oceanfront iconic Boardwalk,” she said.

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Yet a recent poll shows many Americans still think Hurricane Sandy destroyed Atlantic City’s Boardwalk; 25 percent of the nation and 32 percent in the Northeast think it’s gone. At least that’s better than in November, when 52 percent of Northeasterners believed the boardwalk was demolished.

With Hurricane Sandy barreling down on the East Coast in late October, national news trumpeted that the storm would make landfall in Atlantic City. The city did sustain $300 million in property damage, but tourism officials are eager to let potential visitors know that the famous attractions have not washed away.

After Sandy, Cartmell’s organization sprang into marketing action, taking out full-page ads in the New York Times and running TV advertisements.

She’s pleased with the drop in the January poll of people who overestimate the damage.

“But that’s still still a huge proportion — 25 percent of the U.S. and almost a third of our drive-in market still thinks that we have huge huge issues,” she said.

The storm piled onto a rough year, in which Atlantic City gaming revenues continued to slide, falling 8 percent. Pennsylvania has now officially surpassed Atlantic City to be become the second largest gaming market in the U.S. after Las Vegas.

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