Atlantic City boardwalk is open for business

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. - January 3, 2012

Nearly half the country still thinks the Atlantic City board walk was damaged or destroyed. But that is not the case.

"We were expecting a lot of devastation and no sand all of the buildings would be a wreck," said Manon Labone.

That was the perception that a tourist from Canada and many other people had after pictures of the battered boardwalk in Atlantic City's inlet section were broadcast internationally during Superstorm Sandy.

"They were showing pictures on the news that we saw of apparently there was an old boardwalk that was already torn up and they kept showing that over and over, so we were thinking watching the news there that it was here," said Teresa Reilly, Baltimore.

In fact, Atlantic City's boardwalk is just fine as are the casinos that line it, but people are still staying away.

Casino revenues dropped 20% in October and Boardwalk merchants feel the pinch too.

One shop owner says business has gone down 80%.

"Sometimes I get a couple customers, sometimes I just go home. There's nobody's out here; people are not coming," said Omar Khayam.

Casinos are trying to win customers back with big-name entertainment. Sunday night at Revel, rapper Kanye West revealed to the world that he and girlfriend Kim Kardashian are expecting.

And Atlantic City Alliance, the marketing arm of the casino industry, is trying to get the word out.

"Atlantic City is open for business," says Jeff Guaracino. "We had a great New Year's weekend; the restaurants, the shopping and dining the activities, the boardwalk it's all here."

The alliance has run full-page newspaper ads and blitzed TV in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. with commercials to dispel the perception that Atlantic City isn't ready for tourists.

"People don't make the fine distinction between what happening in North Jersey and South Jersey they just look at it as one state," said Guaracino.

Jeff Guaracino says this is a critical time to get the word out as people begin making decisions about winter getaways and summer vacation.

One couple from Baltimore says they are glad they made the trip to gamble and shop.

"I'm doing the craps tables and you can see what my wife's doing. I'm losing more money there then I am at the crap tables," said Jim Reilly.

The Alliance says they plan to spend $30 million in 2013 to get the word out that Atlantic City is open for business.

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