In its 12th year, the OC Air Show has grown into an economic factor for the town and its businesses.
While some businesses are direct benefactors of the event more than others, based on locales and visitor tendencies, there’s no dispute the event brings people to the resort. For many years, the question was whether it was merely a day-tripper event or one that sparks hotel room and rental bookings. The answer seems to be both, but there’s no question Ocean City hosts many regional guests who spend the day on the beach and then return to their homes on the shore within a short driving distance.
In other cases, it’s a weekend many circle on their calendar. One family from Manheim, Pa. reported the air show falls on the first weekend of no school for their young kids. Therefore, they have made a tradition of staying in Ocean City from Thursday-Monday each year. They stay at an oceanfront hotel near the event. While it costs them approximately $2,000 just their accommodations, the family finds value in the location and understands they are paying for the convenience of being on the Boardwalk. The family matriarch remarked the memories they take home of swimming in the ocean while jets fly over them outweighs cost concerns.
Almost since its beginning, there was debate over how much an economic engine the OC Air Show truly was for Ocean City and whether the city should continue to subsidize it with in-kind contributions and even a cash infusion for some time. There’s also a lot of money handed to the event by businesses through sponsorships.
It’s an interesting debate. We believe the investment is well worth it. We understand the concerns from north Ocean City businesses who do not feel the same economic boost as their counterparts on the Boardwalk and downtown area. This is just one of those situations when a holistic view is needed. The event packs an economic punch in the form of parking revenue, room tax dollars, a surge for casual dining spots and a retail boom in the immediate area near the event.
Moving forward, what excites us is the potential for a major boost to June with back-to-back big weekends as the OC Air Show is this weekend and the inaugural Jellyfish Festival next weekend. It will take some time for the festival to take off and become a true economic draw, as it did with the air show. Nonetheless, popular events are reshaping June, which at one time was a month many avoided because of the Senior Week element. While we have seen the downside of hosting these crowds this week as crime does escalate, moving the month toward family events, which the OC Air Show has become on Father’s Day weekend and the Jellyfish Festival aspires to be, is a step in the right direction.