By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Sea Isle City’s beaches proved to be a strong attraction for throngs of visitors this summer – whether they were vacationers enjoying the shore as usual or people wanting to escape the coronavirus outbreak in the major cities.
Beach tag sales for the 2020 summer season nearly reached the same level of revenue as in 2019, according to figures released by the city Thursday.
Through Labor Day weekend, beach tag revenue totaled $1,345,800, compared to $1,378,580 last year, representing only a 2 percent decline.
“As the 2020 beach tag sales indicate, a lot of people wanted to spend time on Sea Isle’s beaches this summer – which is the case every year,” city spokeswoman Katherine Custer said. “No matter if you’re exercising, taking a walk along the water’s edge or simply relaxing in the sun, there’s always something enjoyable to do on the beach.”
Year after year, beach tag sales are a key indicator of the strength of the summer tourism season. Normally, the weather is the dominant factor that affects beach tag sales, but this summer the coronavirus pandemic was the wild card.
Custer noted that Sea Isle’s expansive beaches provided a haven for people who wanted to safely social distance during the pandemic, in addition to savoring the shore for their vacations.
“The No. 1 reason people come to Sea Isle City and other shore communities is the beach,” she said.
As an extra incentive for beachgoers during the pandemic, Sea Isle extended the deadline for buying seasonal tags at the discounted rate of $20 until June 30. Normally, seasonal beach tags increase to the full price of $25 after May 15 each year.
Revenue generated by beach tag sales is an important source of funding for the city. It covers the cost of keeping the beaches clean, collecting the trash, employing lifeguards and hiring summer police officers. The revenue also helps to pay for the city’s beach replenishment projects.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers replenished Sea Isle’s beaches this summer to make them wider and more attractive.
Altogether, more than 750,000 cubic yards of new sand freshened up the beaches between 28th and 52nd streets in the midsection of town and from 74th to 93rd streets in Townsends Inlet at the southern tip of Sea Isle.
“We have fantastic beaches,” Custer said.