Resort’s Population Estimates Questioned Again

OCEAN CITY – The method the town uses to estimate the number of visitors in Ocean City at a given time has been questioned for years, and town officials have now been tasked to generate a better way.

At this week’s Mayor and Council meeting, Councilman Joe Hall brought up his reoccurring concern over basing the estimation of population in town on a given day, or weekend, on demoflush figures.

“Demoflush has always been an issue for me,” Joe Hall said.

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.

Joe Hall asked Tourism Director Donna Abbott and City Manager David Recor to come up with other ideas in ways population can be measured to discuss at a future work session.

Using a Demoflush figure of 300,000, he pointed out that there are 30,000 residential units in town and to estimate 300,000 people it would take 10 people to dwell in each unit, hotel rooms and condos included. He added that day trippers don’t make up the difference.

Joe Hall also used the example of the number of cars on Ocean City’s roadways and that 300,000 people would result in at least 100,000 cars being on the roads, which he finds hard to believe.

“In my opinion, this number is way off,” Joe Hall said. “We are projecting a certain kind of business climate in town by giving those numbers out, and there are people that come to town that are business people, they are making a choice of whether to invest their investment dollars in this community, and if the number that the town is putting out there is inflated by 50 percent … that is just wrong.”

Recor partially agreed with Joe Hall.

“Anyone who came to me as city manager and wanted to use the demoflush figures to base their business model on, I would caution them against that,” he said. “I agree with council member Hall that we need some different metrics in terms of measuring our tourism activities and we will work … to do that. Demoflush may not be the most accurate way to do that because it is strictly population based on water flow.”

Joe Hall concluded that Demoflush has been used for years to be the most consistent wrong number but it is time to move in a different direction.

“We can do a better job,” he said.