On Long Beach Island, optimism for coming summer season

 Bicycle shop owner Tom Walters is optimistic about the summer tourism season. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Bicycle shop owner Tom Walters is optimistic about the summer tourism season. (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

Almost three years after Superstorm Sandy damaged homes and businesses along the Jersey Shore, there’s plenty of optimism about the summer tourism season on Long Beach Island.

Tom Walters, who owns a bicycle shop in Ship Bottom, said Thursday business is steadily improving following a drop in sales after the storm.

“Last year was OK. This year seems better. It started off better,” he said. “So I’m expecting a really good year for more than one reason, the biggest being that we’ve had such a cold winter. I think we all want to get the heck out of the house.”

Long Beach Township Mayor Joe Mancini also sees signs of improvement.

“Our rentals and our bookings for this season are at the pre-Sandy level,” he said. “People love the Jersey Shore, and they realize we’re safe. They realize that the beach and the properties are at the pre-Sandy level and the devastation as a whole is over.”

In Ship Bottom, Mayor Bill Huelsenbeck said more visitors are returning to the Shore.

“Our commercial districts seem to be picking up now, and we’re getting more people coming back. People tend to forget,” he said. “You know they’re not too scared of a storm anymore.”

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