The Chamber of Commerce will look to tap new markets to draw more visitors to Sea Isle.

By Donald Wittkowski

After months of going back and forth, two key groups in Sea Isle City have reached agreement to pay off a $17,000 debt lingering from a tourism campaign that was launched in 2013 in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

“It’s over,” Christopher Glancey, president of the Sea Isle Chamber of Commerce and Revitalization, said of the funding dispute.

At its monthly board meeting Tuesday, the Chamber announced it has worked out a plan with the Sea Isle Tourism Commission to pay off the remaining $17,000 from a $67,000 multimedia advertising campaign that beckoned tourists back to the beach town following the 2012 hurricane.

Under the compromise discussed Tuesday, the debt will be paid off over the next three years in annual installments of $6,000, $6,000 and $5,000 using revenue raised from Sea Isle’s popular Polar Bear Plunge Weekend celebration held every February.

“We felt we needed to remedy our funds,” James Bennett, chairman of the Tourism Commission, told Glancey and the Chamber’s board members at the meeting. “I know, Chris, you said you spoke about it. And I said to Chris, ‘Maybe take the Polar Bear Plunge funds and pay that debt.’”

The Chamber previously had paid $50,000 toward the “We’re Ready” advertising campaign, but there was a dispute with the Tourism Commission over the remaining $17,000.

The ad campaign was designed to counter perceptions that the Jersey Shore was so severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy that it would be shut down for the 2013 summer tourism season. The $17,000 mostly went for billboards and videos that promoted Sea Isle in the wake of the hurricane, the Chamber said.

Both the Chamber and the Tourism Commission had previously claimed that they were not responsible for the ad campaign’s remaining debt. Over the last few months, the Tourism Commission had sought to have the Chamber pay the $17,000, while the Chamber argued that the Tourism Commission should have paid it off.

Chamber members had once discussed the possibility of holding fundraisers in partnership with the Tourism Commission and the city to pay the debt.