Officials: Despite Sandy, South Jersey ready for summer

January 14, 2013 2:50:54 PM PST
Officials from the South Jersey shore, hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, say they will be ready for tourists this summer.

That announcement was made during a news conference on Monday morning in Cape May County.

Officials said most people begin deciding around January 1st where they will spend their summer at the shore. That's why they wannted their message out now.

"We want to keep the folks in the state of New Jersey. We have the best beaches, the best water and some of the best entertainment you can find on the east coast," said State Senator Jeff Van Drew.

Sea Isle City sustained damage from the storm, but it was nothing like the northern shores.

"The majority of the damage was taken care of. Most of it was flooding, we did lose our tourist information center. It was up on the boardwalk and it was actually blown off. That has been replaced," said Sea Isle business owner Jeff Bennett.

However, officials from South Jersey are afraid that people who are not familiar with the New Jersey coastline don't realize that.

"The Jersey Shore has been summed up in one photo, that is the roller coaster in the ocean," Bennett said, referring to the infamous picture of the damage to Seaside Heights on Ocean County.

The concern is that bordering states will bank on images like that to poach Jersey shore tourists. Officials here say tourism is an $18 billion per year industry and they are working hard to make sure the tourists return.

Bennett said he expects 90% of downtown businesses will be open again by Polar Bear Plunge in mid-February. Some 40,000 people are signed up for the event, which is an increase from last year.