Over the years Atlantic City has been a perennial hot spot for summer trips and weekend getaways. It is also known for the numerous gambling establishments. Lately, the city has fallen on hard times, but can it bounce back?
Long perceived as the east-coast's answer to Las Vegas, Atlantic City has the added bonus of being located right on the Atlantic Ocean's coast. The boardwalk and beaches are a popular draw, as are the shops, restaurants, entertainment, nightlife, golf and, of course, the casinos.
Atlantic City has been struggling over the past few years, as its gambling industry is gaining competition from neighboring states. Additionally, the New Jersey coastal communities, as a whole, took a severe battering from Superstorm Sandy and it seems the images displayed in the media in October and early November created a perception the ocean-side town had been one of the communities whose boardwalk had been washed away in the storm.
This year business is significantly down in compared to last year, despite the fact the city held up through Sandy and is open for business. According to the Casino City Times, casino revenues fell 27.9 percent last month, and this is reportedly not all due to the effects of Sandy.
Gambling establishments and clubs are a staple along the Atlantic City boardwalk.
A recent report by the New Jersey Star-Ledger said marketing officials in Atlantic City are concerned that tourists may avoid Atlantic City "just when the city needs them most." Many of the beach towns and cities were devastated by the hurricane, and it seems a fear is that tourists are under the impression that Atlantic City won't be open by Memorial Day, when in reality it never really shut down.
A recent poll commissioned by a local business alliance found that 41 percent of respondents thought Atlantic City's famous boardwalk had been washed away in the storm.
“We were absolutely overwhelmed,” said Liza Cartmell, president of the alliance, by the widespread misperception that “the iconic boardwalk of Atlantic City was gone," reported the New York Times.
Along Atlantic City's iconic boardwalk are casinos, shops, restaurants, carnival rides, and much more. Currently, local establishments are worried business may not be strong come Memorial Day due to a misconception that Sandy destroyed this section of New Jersey's coast.
Now local businesses are trying to change that perception, but can they succeed during a time when the local industry is already struggling?
"We have a really big perception issue before us," Jeff Guaracino, spokesman for the Atlantic City Alliance, a nonprofit marketing agency told the Star-Ledger. "We’re trying to let people know the boardwalk is open and there are good things happening in New Jersey."
According to several media reports, business is still slow and hotel occupancy during the week is "well under" 50 percent, and weekends are down, although, not as much.
While historically, the gambling has been a big draw to the city, there are many other things to do in the oceanfront city once the warmer months arrive, and many families do travel and hang out on the boardwalk, not even entering the casinos. With the Atlantic Ocean as a background, it's a pleasant location.
Motorcycle stuntman performs on Atlantic City's boardwalk.
"The aftermath of the hurricane will likely have a lingering effect," said Wells Fargo Securities gaming analyst Dennis Farrell, Jr., reported Casino City Times. "As the recovery continues to be under way, it is likely premature to estimate what the drag on results will be in the coming months."
In the meantime, the city is actively looking to bring their visitors back, but the big question is even if they do overcome the effects of Sandy, will the overall decline in gambling revenue be too hard to overcome, or will the city perhaps need to turn focus to its other attractive attributes?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com