By MADDY VITALE
Ocean City tourism officials are extending their reach beyond the traditional Philadelphia feeder market to push more aggressively to attract visitors from the New York area.
And in an encouraging sign for the upcoming season, the Tourism Development Commission reported that summer rentals are up and with the COVID-19 vaccine becoming more available, vacationers are booking trips to the shore — and fast.
“The summer rental has been strong since the beginning of the year,” said Burt Wilkins, chairman of the Tourism Commission and broker/owner of Goldcoast Sotheby’s real estate office at 34th Street. “A lot of us believe the vaccine will help our summer tremendously.”
The commission began rolling out an aggressive marketing campaign over the last couple of months that highlights the resort’s attractions and accommodations. The campaign uses billboards, mailings, contest giveaways and social media platforms.
On March 1, Wilkins said the Tourism Commission will target the Philadelphia market with television ads and will also begin streaming promotional videos.
“We will be running those through the spring,” he noted in an interview Thursday.
The commission is also looking into streaming videos in the southern tip of the New York market, specifically Monmouth and Ocean counties.
“We are looking at those markets because hotels and the Boardwalk merchants have noticed an increase in those folks coming to Ocean City for vacations,” Wilkins said. “We are looking at that area as a possible new market for us.”
City Councilwoman Karen Bergman, who is also on the Tourism Commission, gave a report at the Feb. 11 City Council meeting.
She said that the Tourism Commission, which also met on Feb. 11, approved a budget that includes a presence on a variety of social media platforms, including Snapchat and YouTube.
Bergman, like Wilkins, explained that the television ads would be focused on the Philadelphia metropolitan area as well as South Jersey, with a total reach of 6 million viewers.
She also touched upon print ads and postcard mailings.
The first postcard is going in the mail within the next couple of weeks, she said.
Bergman said a second postcard will go out emphasizing that despite a recent fire at one of the Boardwalk’s main attractions, the rest of the Boardwalk is intact and ready to welcome tourists.
A Jan. 30 fire at Playland’s Castaway Cove destroyed the arcade and the adjoining businesses, but park owners emphasized that they will reopen for the summer and that the outside rides were not damaged. They also said they would rebuild the arcade as soon as possible.
“We are coming out with another postcard to let everybody know we’re still Ocean City. We still have a water park. We still have amusements,” Bergman pointed out. “This is so vital. That’s why we are going to come out with another postcard stating that we are ready and to please come visit us.”
Bergman, who is in charge of catering for the historic Flanders Hotel in Ocean City, said, like Wilkins, she noticed rentals are up this year.
“It is looking like it will be a good year,” she said.
For more information visit https://oceancityvacation.com