The media can and should be blamed for a lot, but a couple interesting conversations of late regarding tourism have put us on the defensive.
One anonymous emailer this week accused the paper of drinking Ocean City’s public relations tea this summer, meaning we have been overly positive about this summer season’s tourism and business outlook.
Another caller left us a voice mail suggesting our leadership alter the name of this newspaper to the Maryland Coast Promoter as a result of an opinion piece on these pages suggesting Labor Day weekend could be solid because of an ideal weather forecast and post-hurricane fever.
All those silly attacks aside, here are the facts — all the barometers at our disposal point to this summer being better than last summer.
That being said, it’s worth pointing out last summer was not a great one for Ocean City and surrounding businesses. Therefore, an improvement is big news.
A room tax analysis for Ocean City confirms room tax collected in fiscal year 2010-2011 is up 5.3% over 2009-2010 and up 7.3 percent over 2008-2009. Specifically, June was up 3.57 percent over June 2010 and 6% over June 2009. July room tax numbers increased this year as well, and August’s numbers are still being computed.
Food tax played out similarly this summer, trending up, and demoflush crowd estimates were up across the board from previous years. Specifically, crowd estimates for Labor Day weekend this year jumped 9% from last year, according to the city.
Another conclusion to be made is the loss of the last weekend in August to Hurricane Irene disrupted a solid summer of sales for all Ocean City businesses. That hole in the revenue picture for most businesses is impossible to overcome, and in the end this summer could end up being a wash compared to last year because of the storm’s impact and the subsequent forced closures. That will not be known for sure for weeks.
All in all, aside from that wicked wrench Motehr Nature threw at us two weeks ago, we think the Ocean City area should be pleased with how the summer progressed. We are not claiming it was record breaking (it was not) or even great (it was not for most). However, it was an improvement and there’s reason to build on that optimism. That’s all we are saying.