At the 14th annual Jersey Shorecast, a panel of business and tourism experts said that the Jersey Shore has recovered economically from the COVID-19 shutdown and is expecting a busy 2022 summer.
That was the message that came out of the annual seminar, which was held at the Stockton University Atlantic City John F. Scarpa Academic Center. The Jersey Shorecast was sponsored by the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality, and Tourism (LIGHT), Stockton University School of Business.
LIGHT Faculty Director Jane Bokunewicz moderated the panel, which included:
- Oliver Cooke, associate professor of economics at Stockton University and editor of the South Jersey Economic Review
- Sharon Franz, sales and marketing director at Steel Pier in Atlantic City
- Diane Wieland, director of tourism, Cape May County Department of Tourism
- Jim Ziereis, vice president of sales for Caesars Atlantic City region
“I think the summer of 2022 is going to be another robust and strong shore season,” said Cooke. “It may not be as robust as last summer. I hope I’m wrong, but there was so much pent-up savings and pent-up demand (last year). … I wouldn’t be surprised if we were close to what we were last summer.”
“For Cape May County, we’ve recovered 96% compared to 2019, so we are there,” said Wieland. “In the first quarter in 2022, we’ve seen that our lodging has surpassed 2019, which was a record year. Visitation has also surpassed 2019 (in the first quarter). We are right there close to recovery, and we are seeing things continue to move and do better.”
Some of the panelists did express worry about gas prices and inflation, though.
“We have concerns about gas prices,” said Franz. “We have concerns with products and services going up. We are trying to think out of the box to get people here.”
But, overall, they all expressed optimism about the upcoming summer. “I think we might be back to pre-pandemic levels,” said Franz.
“We are really bullish on this summer season,” added Ziereis.