03/20/05 COMPLIANCE AND COLLECTION UNDERWAY
Jersey Shore Links
Point Pleasant Bch
Long Beach Island
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2007
Share the tax: Tourism commission co-chair suggests
Cape May Star and Wave
http://www.starandwave.com/starwave2-15.pdf (Click link for complete article)
“…City Council recently passed a resolution requesting the state legislature to
amend the law to allow the room tax to be applied to seasonal and short term rentals
of single-family homes. The city has been charging a 2-percent room tax on hotel,
motels and guesthouses since July 1, 2004.”
224-10-2003 Requesting New Legislation for Extension of Room Tax to Seasonal and Short-Term Rental of Single-Family Homes
Posted on Sun, Aug. 08, 2004
Spending time, not money, at Shore
From his bird's-eye view high in his helicopter above the Jersey Shore, Bill "Doc" Daughenbaugh says he gets a pretty good read on what's happening on the ground from summer season to summer season.
"From up there, it looks fat. When you get down here, it's flat," says Daughenbaugh, who takes tourists for rides in his chopper. And he isn't referring to the Shore's topography but to its economy. The summer of 2004 could turn out to be a bust instead of the bonanza they had hoped for. And business owners such as Daughenbaugh are trying to put a finger on why.
"I think that we just had a real strong start to the season because of the great weather in the spring and a very strong June," said JoAnne DelVescio, director of the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce. "And that got everyone thinking that it was going to be a bang-up summer. But then, after the Fourth of July, for whatever reason, the season just seemed to fizzle."
Speculation for the slump? High gas prices. A soft economy. Better travel bargains elsewhere. Cheap air fares. More day-trippers.
State officials believe that New Jersey has lost as much as $1 billion in revenue to other destinations in the last decade because marketing efforts were too regionally concentrated, essentially attracting the same tourists over and over.
Other factors aside, the chief complaint this summer is the weather. Four of the first five days of this month were rainy, compared with 12 days in the entire month of August 2003, according to the National Weather Service.
Eight rainy days in July this year, including three Sundays in a row, also may have dampened profits.
"We had a real bad July this year," said Joe D'Intino, Sea Isle City's beach-fees director. He had not yet run the totals for July, but could tell that beach-tag sales had plummeted. Trends were similar in Ship Bottom, Ocean City and Stone Harbor.
Brigantine reported fewer daily beach badges sold in July - 2,225 this year, compared with 2,585 last year. The number of seasonal beach tags sold was down - 2,338 this year, compared with 2,845 last year.
Others contend that tourists are still flocking to the Shore, but that they just don't seem to be on the beach or spending much money.
A 3 percent rise was seen in early summer traffic this year along the Atlantic City Expressway, a barometer of the economic strength of resorts in Cape May and Atlantic Counties. This May and June, 5.38 million vehicles were counted, compared with 5.23 million the same period last year.
"I've never in my life seen so much traffic on the roads as this summer when you get a nice, hot day," said Daughenbaugh, 50, a Shore native. "But they aren't exactly lining up for helicopter rides, either. There's more people here, but I've seen a definite decline in business. It just doesn't make any sense."
New Jersey has seen a steady increase in its number of visitors. Last year, 65 million people visited, a 12.4 percent increase over 2002, according to state figures.
But although the state is attracting more tourists, its share of the national tourism market has slipped from 3.0 to 2.9 percent over the last decade, according to state figures.
One-tenth of a percent may not seem like much, but the decline amounts to a total loss of $1 billion over 10 years for the state's $31 billion-a-year tourism industry.
As much as two-thirds of New Jersey tourism dollars are spent at the Shore, according to state figures.
As the people who make money at the Shore begin to tally the bottom line for the summer of 2004, the state launched a two-week survey yesterday, asking 10,000 visitors what they think of the Jersey Shore.
The Shore is losing market share because it doesn't have enough brand identity in the travel marketplace, compared with such places as Disney World, the Outer Banks, or Cape Cod, said Curtis Bashaw, executive director of the state Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, which is sponsoring the survey.
"It's possible that we've been resting on our laurels a little too much, depending on that repeat business that came back year after year," Bashaw said. "And in that 10 years, other places that may have been hungrier for business more aggressively marketed themselves and went after our business. We now need to reclaim and grow our market share."
Although tumbleweeds aren't exactly rolling down Ocean Drive this summer, things are quieter along the main streets of many Shore communities.
"I think the bottom line for this summer is going to end up being somewhere below the middle, below the average," said Greg Krewson, owner of AJ's Rentals in Beach Haven, where tourists can rent such items as beach umbrellas, cribs, beach chairs and fans. "People don't rent beach chairs and umbrellas when it's cloudy out."
An informal survey of more than two dozen hotels and motels from Long Beach Island to Cape May found plenty of rooms available for this weekend and next.
"I think the new state hotel/motel tax has had a chilling effect on the market all along the Shore for some visitors," David Taylor, vice president of the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce, said of the 5 percent levy.
Instead of coming and staying a week, people are opting for shorter visits. Many want rooms that have kitchenettes so they can eat in at least some of the time to save money, Taylor said.
Realtor Kevin Kozak of Lawrence Realty in Ocean City said the Shore, with its state and local occupancy taxes and high rental rates, may be "pricing itself out of the reach of a lot of people."
Kozak said regional residents who may have spent at least part of their vacation at the Shore seem to be spending only the day and taking their actual vacations somewhere else.
"I think a lot of people are looking at the fact that they can take the $6,000 or $7,000 it costs to rent a condo here for a week, and take their family somewhere that is perhaps a little more exotic to them for half the price," Kozak said. "The sale prices have skyrocketed so far in the few years at the Shore that the average renter can't afford the rent."
Even Saturday night reservations at some of the hot dining spots in the Shore's more foodie-oriented towns, such as Cape May, Margate and Somers Point, seem to be easier to come by than in seasons past.
And not as many tourists are riding boardwalk amusements.
"July was terrible," said Marilou Halvorsen, director of marketing for Jenkinson's Pavilion in Point Pleasant Beach, Ocean County. "The weather wasn't as bad as the forecasters predicted it was going to be, but apparently the people stayed home anyway. We were lucky for a strong June, but July was flat. We're just hoping for a better August."
Contact staff writer Jacqueline L. Urgo at 609-823-9629 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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