By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
No beach tag? No worries.
You won’t have to pretend to be asleep or make a mad dash into the ocean when you see Sea Isle City’s beach tag inspectors heading in your direction.
Use your phone instead.
All new for this summer, Sea Isle is introducing digital beach tags that can be bought and stored on smartphones using a mobile app.
With a digital tag, beachgoers won’t have to carry around those tiny plastic beach badges that have been in vogue since the 1970s. They would simply show the beach badge inspectors the digital tag on their phone.
Sea Isle isn’t getting rid of the plastic beach tags. Beachgoers will still have the option of buying physical tags, too. But now, they will have the choice of going digital by having their beach tags stored on their cellphone or other smart devices.
“People won’t need a physical beach tag. They’ll have it on their phone,” city spokeswoman Katherine Custer said.
Custer believes the digital beach tags will be particularly popular with young people because of their heavy use of smartphone technology to “do everything.”
City Council is expected at its meeting Tuesday to authorize a contract with My Beach Mobile of Haddonfield, N.J., for the mobile app allowing Sea Isle’s beachgoers to buy digital tags. Physical beach tags may also be bought using the same app, but they would have to be picked up at the places where they are available in Sea Isle.
When it is ready for Sea Isle, the app may be used to buy daily, weekly or seasonal beach tags, Sea Isle Chief Financial Officer Jennifer McIver said.
McIver said Sea Isle’s beach tags are expected to be available for purchase on the app around April 1. Details will be announced by the city when it is ready.
“We’re hopeful. I think it’s going to be a good thing,” McIver said.
The app can be downloaded on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. More information is available at Welcome to My Beach Mobile!
There will be fees for using the app. For instance, a daily beach tag costing $10 would have a $1 fee for a total price of $11. A weekly beach tag costing $15 would have a $1.74 fee. Seasonal beach tags costing $30 would have a $3.17 fee tagged on.
The more people spend to buy beach tags, the higher the fees. For instance, if someone bought $100 worth of beach tags, there would be a fee of $6.20 to bring the total cost to $106.20, according to the fee schedule.
McIver said she believes that people generally won’t mind paying the fees because of the convenience of buying beach tags on the phone.
The digital seasonal tags will be good for the entire summer. The daily and weekly tags will only be valid for those particular days and then will expire, McIver said.
My Beach Mobile replaces the old Viply mobile app that was previously available to buy Sea Isle beach tags over the phone. Viply, however, did not sell digital beach tags, only the physical ones. Viply has since gone out of business, McIver said.
Beach tags are required in Sea Isle from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Children under the age of 12 are allowed on the beach for free.
Sea Isle has raised the price for beach tags for the summer of 2024. Seasonal tags have increased from $25 to $30. Sea Isle offers a discount on seasonal beach tags if they are bought before May 15. The discounted price has increased from $20 to $25.
Weekly beach tags have increased from $10 to $15 and dailies have doubled from $5 to $10.
Beach tag revenue is usually in the $1.3 million to $1.4 million range annually for Sea Isle. For the summer of 2023, it came in at $1.3 million, a slight drop from the same period in 2022, McIver said.
Revenue generated by beach tag sales is an important source of funding. 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 Sea Isle’s share of beach replenishment projects, including one that is scheduled for this spring.