Poll: One-third of New Jerseyans still not ready to head down the shore

Daniel J. Munoz//May 24, 2021

Poll: One-third of New Jerseyans still not ready to head down the shore

Daniel J. Munoz//May 24, 2021

Ahead of Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial start of summer, a new poll released May 24 shows a steady amount of hesitancy for heading back to the Jersey Shore this summer.

According to the report from Monmouth University, just 58% of New Jerseyans said they were planning to make it down to the shore – one of New Jersey’s most iconic tourist attractions – at some point this summer.

Twenty-nine percent of adults said they did not plan to visit the Jersey Shore this summer, while 6% said they were not sure and 8% said they already lived in the region, according to the poll, which includes interviews from 704 New Jersey adults conducted between April 29 and May 4.

Long Branch beach, Monmouth County. - MICHAEL COLARUSSO
Are you heading back to the beach this summer? – MICHAEL COLARUSSO

“There may be some vacancies in short-term rentals this summer with fewer families making an extended trip, which makes sense since COVID vaccines aren’t available for most children,” said Patrick Murray, head of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, which ran the study. “However, most New Jersey adults are itching to get back on the beaches and boardwalks.”

Of those planning to go to the shore, 19% said they’ll stay at least a week, and the remaining 39% said they’ll stay less than a week.

An April poll from last year showed that 51% of respondents expected their shore plans to fall through given the onset of the pandemic and mass restrictions at the time on businesses, public gatherings and non-essential travel.

Gov. Phil Murphy is reportedly slated to announce at a COVID-19 press briefing this afternoon that he is lifting the indoor mask mandate effective this Friday, which is the start of the Memorial Day weekend.

Mask requirements were already lifted for outdoor settings, and last week the state officially began some of its most “aggressive” reopening steps for businesses taken during the pandemic.

Capacity restrictions are being scrapped entirely and replaced with a 6-foot social distancing requirement for businesses including restaurants, personal service establishments, indoor and outdoor amusement parks, churches, retail stores and gyms.

The state is ending percentage-based capacity limits. Restaurants must enforce 6-foot social distancing or install barriers between tables closer than 6 feet. Tables are not limited to eight people.

With ramped up vaccination efforts, rolled back restrictions and some of the lowest levels of hospitalizations and daily cases seen in many months, businesses up and down the Shore are expecting an explosion in summer tourism this season.

Hiring shortages – especially for the dining, retail and hospitality sectors that make up much of the Jersey Shore – have nipped that optimism.

Still, the pent up demand could help fuel a bounce back to the state’s dismal tourism season in 2020, where visitors dropped 27% from a “record-breaking” 116 million in 2019 to 86.4 million tourists in 2020, according to a May 6 report released by the New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism.

Tourism spending dropped 37% from $46.4 billion in 2019 to $29.4 billion in 2020, breaking a decade of growth that began in 2009 following the Great Recession, the report found.