Voices From The Readers

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Ban Beach Smoking

Editor:

I feel that it is time for me to speak out on the issue of smoking on the beach.  We appreciate the efforts of the council in banning smoking in the parks and recreation areas of Ocean City, but we were very disappointed that smoking was not banned on the beach.

My whole family was here Aug. 5 through 15. One family came from California and one from Pennsylvania to enjoy a nice family vacation with us. We have owned a house for over 15 years in Ocean City and pay taxes to the city and Worcester County. We have five grandchildren ranging in age from 1 1/2 years old to 8 years old. My daughter-in-law, who is a physician, remarked that she felt we were bombarded by smoke from every direction on the beach. This is very unhealthy for my grandchildren as well as my children and my husband and myself. We saw smoking areas by the entrance but most people were not using them.

Once, when two people were using them, their smoke blew right in our faces while we were trying to exit the beach on 117th Street. It is time to ban smoking on the beach on Ocean City and make this a real family resort.

I don’t feel like we should have to pick up all of our things and move away from our spot on the beach after we have settled to accommodate smokers. Why should the smokers be allowed to pollute the air at the beach and blow smoke in our faces? The facts are in and everyone knows smoking and second hand smoke are very harmful to our health. Smoking is also a bad example to the children and teenagers. I call for Ocean City to step up to the plate and ban smoking on the beach.

  
Donna Karpenko
Ocean City

Buzz Needed To Keep Visitors Coming Here

Editor:

Those of us on City Council who have offered ideas for non-traditional promotional concepts this summer have done so because we are focused on maximizing the future economic growth of Ocean City. These promotional suggestions are not about being naysayers or predicting a fall from glory for our town; none of us believes that this will happen. Rather, they have a twofold aim of creating even more excitement about Ocean City and increasing the likelihood that our current visitors will again plan their vacations in our town in the future. We want to more effectively reach out to prospective visitors while simultaneously making efforts to retain our current visitors.

All residents and businesses are affected by visitor population numbers. The number of tourists who visit has a direct effect on the town’s ability to keep property taxes low and provide services at reasonable costs. This figure also determines the likelihood of businesses prospering and individual workers earning their livelihoods.

By many accounts, Ocean City has welcomed more visitors this year than in 2010, at least on the weekends. Many have also noted, though, that there has been more than the usual disparity between the numbers of visitors on weekdays versus weekends, suggesting a shorter overall average length of stay. Regardless, we should not allow year-to-year fluctuations to distract us from focusing on the bigger picture. Even if we have in fact drawn more tourists this year than last year, the seasonal population figures are still not what they used to be — nor what they should be.

Ocean City benefitted from tremendous growth in seasonal tourism during the 1970s and 1980s. The town’s highest seasonal Demoflush figures were recorded in 1988 (4,547,055), 1989 (4,425,644) and 1990 (4,579,513). Since then, population estimates have declined to average roughly 4.1 million visitors per season, representing a staggering decrease of over 400,000 visitors from our peak years. Over this 20-year period, the difference amounts to 8 million additional visitors that we have lost. Even more troubling is that while Ocean City lost ground during this period, many of our competitors enjoyed growth in their tourism bases.

Since we’re not drawing the numbers of visitors that we used to draw, we need to take a look at what we might do differently. Many people have argued that we should accentuate our town’s positive attributes. I agree completely. Ocean City has a wonderful beach and boardwalk and many fine attractions. We offer numerous free family activities and many other fun things to do that make us a prime vacation destination.

But accentuating these positive things isn’t enough on its own. Many of the competing resorts offer similar things. We need to do more in order to stand out from the competition. Those of us who were here in the peak population years remember the long lines at the restaurants, the sea of no vacancy signs at the motels — even on weekdays — and the sight of visitors carrying full shopping bags. Without fundamental changes in the ways we market and promote the Ocean City vacation experience, those days may remain just a memory.

Some in the community believe that promotional efforts should be the responsibility of the private sector. This position fails to recognize the importance of coordinating efforts. Government officials, tourism groups and members of the private sector must work together as a cohesive unit to maximize the returns that can be realized by increasing our summer population numbers. The role of the Mayor and City Council should be to coordinate the efforts so that the resulting message is consistent and effective. Fragmented promotional efforts will fail to produce desirable returns.

The central, direct goal of marketing is not to make people buy your product, but instead to make them think about your product. The indirect effect that follows is that the more people think about your product, the more likely to purchase your product they become.

Those who have characterized free gas and wristband giveaways as being gimmicky or trivial are missing the big picture. As I have handed out gas money envelopes all summer and wristbands to visitors over the past several weeks, I have witnessed nothing but excitement and gratitude. Such giveaways increase the likelihood that people will continue to think about — and talk to others about — their trip to Ocean City. Just because the benefits that our tourism economy receives from such promotions are intangible does not make them any less real. Anything that makes people think about Ocean City in a positive manner cannot be called ineffective or a gimmick.

The product that we are marketing is the Ocean City vacation experience. In order to aggressively and effectively promote this product, our marketing efforts need to go beyond traditional media advertising. By pursuing non-traditional avenues of promotion as supplements to traditional advertising campaigns, we can increase the number of prospective visitors who think about Ocean City and who talk to one another about Ocean City. Once more: the more that people think and talk about our town, the more likely they will be to visit.

As P.T Barnum said over 150 years ago, “getting them into the tent is the hard part. Entertaining them is easy.” The same is true today. Our history tells us that we are capable of greater tourism performance. There is no good reason to not make every effort to create a “buzz” about Ocean City and to restore visitor numbers to the levels from two decades ago. Accomplishing this will benefit all of us. Let’s get more of them into the tent, while making sure that those already in the tent don’t leave.

Brent Ashley
Ocean City

Ocean City Is Perfect

Editor:

Ocean City is my second home. Throughout my 16 years of existence, it has become a major part of my life. Spending all of my summers here has been the biggest blessing and I would not trade it for anything.

This summer, the town of Ocean City gave me my first job. I worked at the Ocean City Tennis Center on 61st Street as a Tennis Attendant. It was perfect. I got to teach the Peewee and Tennis Academy camps, which was my favorite part of the job because of the adorable little kids. The job allowed me to meet many wonderful people, and I’m looking forward to working there in future summers. One of the perks of working for the city was receiving free bus fare.

The bus is another part of Ocean City that has helped to make my summers even better. It gives me independence despite my lack of a driver’s license. It is that much more special because I live in a rural area in Pennsylvania where public transportation is not available. Ocean City is a big place, but to me it feels like a community. Over the years I have gotten to know countless people and locals who reside here throughout the summer. This makes the atmosphere feel like a home and not just a tourist attraction.

Hosting the Dew Tour this season was an amazing treat. It gave Ocean City the incredible publicity it deserves. Although the traffic was horrendous, having such a huge event here was exciting. The free Kid Cudi concert was like a dream come true for me. It was definitely one of my favorite nights of the summer.

Beaches in Ocean City are always safe. We have the best lifeguards and I never feel uneasy when I am out in the ocean. Watching the sunrises on the beach and the meteor showers late at night are some of my favorite things to do. Northside Park is the best spot to catch the sunset on the bay. I am so lucky to live right across the street from it.

Ocean City is the perfect beach community. Incredible restaurants, exciting night life, and beautiful beaches: there is never a dull moment. I could never imagine spending my summers anywhere else, nor would I want to. Thank you, Ocean City.

Brenna Waite
Kemblesville, Pa.

Extreme Distortion

Editor:

Just when you thought left wing extremism had been thoroughly discredited, out again peeks James A. Hoage of Severna Park.

In your Aug. 19 edition, he lectures us on the need to give children of illegal “immigrants” [not aliens] the right to in-state tuition. Do the words “illegal” and “right” used together seem contradictory?

Hoage then states that “Gay marriage should be encouraged” and, to demonstrate his phony knowledge, incorrectly cites the U.S. Constitution saying that Article 4, Section 1 “forces each state to recognize gay marriages made in other states.” Pure distortion. That particular article says we must recognize another state’s right to make its own law, not that we must adopt another state’s laws. Hoage would do well to read the 10th Amendment. Even for him it should be easy — it’s only one sentence.

Finally, to reassert his twisted radical credentials, Hoage once again crawls out of the extreme left wing woodwork and intentionally and disgustingly groups the words “Republicans are inflaming the bigots,” “narrow base of rich people,” and “big corporations” in the same sentence. Talk about inflaming. There seems to be no end to Hoage’s ideologically-driven nonsense.

Angelo Floria
Ocean City

Help Much Appreciated

Editor:

Like only Ocean City can do it, the town came together last Friday and threw a great party to celebrate the life of Kathy Mathias. Thank you on behalf of her family and friends. This is truly a wonderful place to live.

Thank you to the Angler, B.J.’s, Brass Ball’s, Candy Kitchen, Captain’s Galley, Conner’s Beach Cafe/The Bresnahan Family, Cork Bar, DaVinci’s, Fager’s, Flannery’s, Fresco’s, Greene Turtle North, Greene Turtle West, Hall’s Restaurant, Harpoon Hanna’s, Harrison Group, L.O.R.A., Layton’s, Lunch Box, Macky’s, Mancini’s, Micky Fins, Minit Market, Mione’s, Olive Tree, Original Smith Island Cake Co., Phillips Seafood, Reflections, Rice House, Seacrets, Sunset Grille, and Tony’s Pizza.  

Also special thanks to Holy Savior Church, Royal Plus, Ocean City Marlin Club, Lovin’ Life Limos, Parties Your Way, Taxi Taxi, ABC Printers, Burbage Funeral Home, OCVFD Ladies Auxiliary, Marlin Club Ladies Auxiliary, Kevin Kirstein and the OCPD and the OCFD, Mike Beatty, Linda and Michael Pohuski, Laura Mitchell, Buddy Trala, Trish Soper, Mandy Spicer and Sue Carpenter.

Ralph Sapia, Chris Butler and Carol Ann Beres
Ocean City

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