The unofficial start of summer has come and gone. With Memorial Day weekend in the rearview mirror, the focus now is on brighter days ahead — the beach, the sun, vacations and relaxation.
Many people throughout the region took advantage of a hot and sunny Saturday to enjoy the beach that weekend, and the Shore towns are hoping the heat remains and the rain stays away for the next three months.
And all New Jersey residents should hope for the same, as the summer Shore business is a huge part of the state’s economy — a $20 billion-plus industry, or half of the state’s total tourism revenue, according to estimates.
In March, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno reported the state’s tourism industry generated $43.4 billion in 2015, an increase of more than 3 percent over the year before, with almost half of that happening at the Shore. Many Shore towns reported record beach badge sales last summer, in large part because of lower gas prices — which, for the most part, still remain — and “glorious weather,” as Guadagno put it.
The state spends millions of dollars every year on advertising campaigns seeking to keep New Jersey residents home for the summer, and to attract other states’ residents to the Garden State as well. The extra push started a few years ago following Hurricane Sandy, with the Stronger Than the Storm campaign, and it continues today in different forms.
The state has an official tourism website, www.visitnj.org, with information on events and things to do throughout the state for the entire year, with a special focus on our coastline for summer.
The proof will be in the pudding, though, once turnout can be assessed later this year or early next.
So, as we said in this space a few weeks ago, make sure you travel local this summer and visit the state’s wonderful beaches.
They’re cheap, they’re close, and they’re a lot of fun.
And while you’re doing it, don’t forget about us, either. Send us your vacation photos, and we’ll let all your neighbors know just how much fun you’re having.
In the meantime, pray for sun, lots of it, and enjoy your time in it!