Memorial Day at the Jersey Shore tests impact of inflation and gas prices

Aerial view of beachgoers on the shoreline of Atlantic City, N.J.

File photo: This July 9, 2018 photo shows beachgoers on the shoreline of Atlantic City N.J. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

Businesses along the Jersey Shore will have their first indication this weekend of whether people will want to leave the house for a road trip despite rising gas prices.

Cape May County will be “pretty much” a “full house,” predicts Diane Wieland, the county’s tourism director.

“We’re hearing 90 to 95% occupancy rates,” she said. “That’s going to fill in quickly for people who are making last-minute plans.”

Wieland is anticipating a big holiday weekend that will appeal to all ages. In addition to the “opening of the beach,” several outdoor events will be taking place, including the Wildwoods International Kite Festival. Many in Wildwood will also have a chance to check out the new boardwalk, which reopened recently.

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“There’s just so many things for people to do,” she added.

At the Steel Pier in Atlantic City, a largely outdoor attraction, they will be opening a new restaurant called The Crab House, which will have a raw bar and all different types of seafood.

“We’re looking forward to it because it’s something different on the boardwalk,” said Sharon Franz, sales and marketing director for Steel Pier. “Nobody has that, so we’re excited about introducing that.”

She adds that she hopes that the weather holds out for the weekend, not just for the attraction.

“That’s most important for us because that’ll drive traffic to the pier and to the shore,” she said.

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This summer is expected to be another good one for the shore in general, though the tourism industry isn’t expecting to see the numbers it did in 2021.

“Even though there was pent up demand last year, the demand is going to continue,” said Jane Bokunewicz, director of Stockton University’s Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism. She adds people realize how important travel is in their lives in addition to the need to get away and enjoy family and friends.

Bockunewicz expects that most of the visitors will come from close by.

“We’re lucky to be located within the radius of all of these large cities,” she added.

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