OCEAN CITY – At the conclusion of this week’s Mayor and City Council legislative session, Councilman Brent Ashley brought up the decreasing tourism stats so far this summer and the possibility of it being related to rainy weather.
“Our demoflush and room tax collection numbers have been substantially down for many months. The Smith Travel Report also shows monthly and yearly declining occupancy numbers,” he said. “I received the May Smith Travel Report this morning with a note from our tourism director that said, ‘Cooler temps definitely impacted the month’. I recently saw an online post from the president of our advertising agency mentioning the ‘lousy’ spring weather. If we’re going to blame the weather and not our marketing approach or how visitors perceive Ocean City for our falling numbers, let’s prove it. I would like to request a five-year comparison of weather and tourism data for the months of April and May.”
Demoflush figures are estimations on the population in Ocean City based on wastewater flow from Ocean City provided by the Ocean City Wastewater Division and calculated by the OC Tourism Department. For the week ending June 30, each day’s estimation was reduced by at least 20,000.
The council immediately was in consensus with Ashley in how a weather comparison would provide a clearer picture for Ocean City’s tourism data.
Councilwoman Mary Knight reminded the council the Tourism Commission is in the process of coming up with an expanded tourism metric besides Demoflush and the commission has agreed to include weather in the data.
“Weather has become imperative,” she said.
Councilman Dare pointed out that while Ocean City is spending $5 million in marketing and has expanded their advertising market to reach traditional Jersey Shore visitors who may have been looking for an alternative vacation after Superstorm Sandy, New Jersey has stepped up their marketing budget to $20 million, as well as Atlantic City with a $25 million budget.
“There has been bad weather over the last month or so, but there is another thing that may be affecting it,” Dare said. “That is $45 million they are spending in the same market place we are. We are being out spent 10:1, so that may be as much of an issue as the weather.”
Mayor Rick Meehan interjected the marketing budget may fit into the equation of Ocean City’s declining number of visitors but weather is key.
“I don’t know if the weather is the same here as it is in New Jersey, but I will tell you, as somebody who makes their living outside, this is the worst spring I can remember in a long time — cold and rainy,” Councilman Joe Mitrecic said.