By MADDY VITALE
Ocean City officials and tourists couldn’t have asked for a better beach season.
From near perfect weather start to finish of the traditional season ending Labor Day, it was a summer to remember – one of the best – in recent years.
“This is the best season since 2016,” Frank Donato, the city’s chief financial officer, said of the season-ending numbers in beach tag sales. “If you look at it every month, we did better than last year.”
Donato said overall, the weather had a lot to do with it.
“You couldn’t have asked for a much better season weather-wise,” he said. “We didn’t have a washout day. When it rained, it was mostly at night and the couple of heat waves weren’t too bad.”
Beach tag revenue totaled $4.03 million.
“That is the best figure since 2016 and it surpassed last year by nearly $100,000,” Donato noted.
In all, Ocean City reaped $4 million in beach tag revenue in 2017, compared to $4.1 million in 2016.
Beach tag revenue goes to offset costs for anything from lifeguard salaries to their equipment and the Public Works Department’s beach maintenance and equipment. It also helps with matching funds for beach replenishment projects, Donato said.
Michele Gillian, executive director of the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce, said since Memorial Day the weather truly was on their side.
“Ocean City enjoyed one of the best seasons in a long time,” Gillian said. “Weather was a big factor, but O.C. has so many attractions that include our pristine beaches, beautiful Boardwalk and beautiful back bays for all to enjoy.”
Ocean City annually leads all New Jersey shore towns in beach tag sales because of its sheer size, Donato explained.
The city’s 7-mile-long beachfront is much bigger than neighboring towns, allowing it to handle enormous crowds. At the peak of the summer vacation season, the number of visitors can swell to about 150,000, compared to Ocean City’s year-round population of 11,700, Donato said.
“We are the biggest program in New Jersey for the beach tags. When you look at the barrier islands, we are the same size as all of the Wildwoods combined,” Donato said. “We are Stone Harbor and Avalon combined.”
Beach tag sales and parking revenue are viewed as key indicators of the strength of the summer tourism season.
According to Donato, parking revenue, as of the end of August, totaled $2.988 million. In 2018 the number was $2.809 million.
The popularity of Ocean City’s sandy shoreline was reflected again this summer when it was selected as New Jersey’s “Favorite Beach” in a statewide contest conducted by the New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium. Altogether, Ocean City has taken top honors in the contest 11 years.
Gillian has repeatedly said that each accolade bestowed upon Ocean City shows that there is so much to do in “America’s Greatest Family Resort,” making it an ideal vacation destination for families and people of all ages and interests.