N.J. tourism groups seek $20 million to counter perceptions of obliterated Shore

Concerned that Sandy might cast a pall over the summer season, tourism officials in New Jersey are seeking $20 million in emergency state funding to market the Shore as ready for vacationers.

Industry representatives told the New Jersey Assembly Tourism Committee Monday that there’s a perception among many people outside the state that the entire Jersey coastline was wiped out by Hurricane Sandy.

“Day trips are not what we need. We need to be able to able to promote. We need to promote to our outer markets, said Diane Wieland, director of the Cape May County Department of Tourism. “Understandably the farther you come the longer you’re going to stay, and they’re all generating occupancy tax.”

In fact, most of the businesses in Cape May and Atlantic counties reopened just a few days after the storm.

And most of the Shore businesses in hard-hit Ocean and Monmouth counties are taking steps to reopen, according to Marylou Halverson of the New Jersey Restaurant Association.

“They’ll be ready probably by Easter. Those boardwalks are repaired or they will be repaired, and the rides will be back up, and the Jersey Shore will be open for business,” she said Monday. “The perception is that the Jersey Shore is closed.

“We do need an active — I don’t want to call it an advertising campaign, I want to call it an awareness campaign to negate all that negative publicity,” she said.

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