Potential Impact Of N.J. Damage Weighed In OC

OCEAN CITY — While stopping short of attempting to take advantage of the competition’s misfortune, Ocean City business leaders this week discussed the potential impact from the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy last fall on the resort’s rival communities to the north.

In late October, Hurricane Sandy rolled through Ocean City and the mid-Atlantic, flooding low-lying areas and eroding beaches. However, the storm’s eye made landfall much farther north and caused devastation for many coastal communities in New Jersey and New York.

During an Ocean City Economic Development Committee (EDC) meeting this week, the potential impact of the lasting devastation in the New Jersey resort communities on the summer season in Ocean City was discussed. Maryland Hotel and Lodging Association President David Reel, who was addressing the EDC on other issues, seemed to think there wouldn’t be a large migration of those who typically frequent the Jersey Shore to Ocean City.

“It’s difficult to predict because there is no hard data and everything is anecdotal,” he said. “The New Jersey market is largely segmented with the south end from Cape May to Atlantic City and from Atlantic City north. Southern New Jersey is not going to generate a lot of traffic for Ocean City because they didn’t get hit that hard. Northern New Jersey really got hammered, but there are not a lot of resorts in that area with a high concentration of hotels and motels.”

Reel said the Jersey Shore resorts should have the funding and the drive to rebound before the season.

Nonetheless, Clarion Resort Hotel owner Dr. Lenny Berger said while Ocean City shouldn’t aggressively go after New Jersey vacationers, he suspected many of the resort towns there would not be fully recovered.

“We have a great opportunity there, but unfortunately it comes at someone else’s disability,” he said. “We would hate to profit from somebody else’s loss, but they are not going to be back by summer.”

Ocean City Tourism Director Donna Abbott said the town is aware of the situation and could direct some of its marketing efforts in that direction.

“I think we’ll try to do a little more there,” she said. “We’re already competing in those markets, including Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, New Jersey and Central Pennsylvania. We’re going to revisit the Pittsburgh area because we’ve gotten away from that but there is a real opportunity there.”