TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Tourism promoters say the state's advertising campaign to let people know the Jersey shore was open for business this year was good, but came too late to save the summer.
Representatives of tourism and business agencies told a state Assembly committee Thursday that New Jersey needs to have a new tourism campaign ready within a few weeks if it wants to prevent next summer from being affected.
Numerous tourism officials all said they liked New Jersey's "Stronger Than The Storm" ads, featuring Gov. Chris Christie. But they all said the Memorial Day weekend debut was way too late to help drive new traffic to the shore last summer.
"We needed to get the message out in January and February that the shore was open for business," said Sharon Franz, president of the New Jersey Travel Industry Association. "That's the time when our customers make their vacation plans."
She and others said some shore businesses were down 30 to 40 percent in June and July, which were also plagued by bad weather, before rebounding in August.
The tourism promoters did not blame the state for starting the ads too late. But they did say a new campaign needs to be rolled out as soon as possible.
Robert Hilton, executive director of the Jersey Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau, said many merchants in Monmouth and Ocean counties, the areas hardest-hit by Sandy, are still struggling.