By Donald Wittkowski
Sea Isle City will fall a little short of 2016’s record beach tag sales, but city officials stressed that this summer still proved strong for tourism.
Last year, Sea Isle had a little more than $1.4 million in beach tag revenue, an all-time high that reflected gorgeous weather throughout the summer season, officials said.
Some rainy days and the threat of bad weather on other days cut into beach tag sales this summer. Through Aug. 27, beach tag sales had generated almost $1.36 million in revenue, about $38,000 less than the same period last year, City Business Administrator George Savastano said.
Beach tags are required through the Labor Day holiday weekend, giving Sea Isle a few more days to rake in more revenue. Savastano, though, said he doubted the city would be able to match last year’s revenue.
“We’re not going to make that up in holiday sales or by the end of the year,” he said while giving a report on beach tag revenue during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
Despite being a little short of 2016’s revenue, this summer exceeded the city’s budget projection of $1.28 million in beach tag sales, Savastano noted.
“It’s not all bad,” he said. “But it’s not a record.”
Beach tag sales are a key indicator of the strength of summer tourism. Council President Mary Tighe said all of the Sea Isle business owners she has spoken to told her they enjoyed a banner summer season.
“Overall, it’s been a great summer,” Tighe said.
Sea Isle’s tourist-based economy continues to benefit from a $40 million beach replenishment project completed last year by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Altogether, nearly 3 million cubic yards of new sand was added to the entire shoreline from First Street to 94th Street in 2015 and 2016.
The formerly storm-battered beaches are much wider now. Sunbathers have a lot more room to spread out their blankets, chairs and umbrellas on the powdery sand. And after Labor Day weekend, the beaches will be free.
Starting next Tuesday, Sea Isle will end its beach tag sales and parking fees for the summer, giving visitors and residents alike a money-saving perk for the quieter off-season months.
“Tuesday is a good day for people. Park for free and go to the beach for free,” city spokeswoman Katherine Custer said.