By Donald Wittkowski
It was neither a blockbuster nor a bust.
Sea Isle City’s 2018 summer tourism season fell somewhere in between, local business leaders said Tuesday in a lukewarm assessment of the pivotal weeks from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Rainy weather in June, just as the summer season was unfolding, put a damper on business and it wasn’t until July and August that the city began to catch up, they noted.
“It was a mixed bag for this summer,” said Christopher Glancey, president of the Sea Isle City Chamber of Commerce and Revitalization.
Glancey and other Chamber members discussed the highlights and lowpoints of the all-important summer season during their board meeting Tuesday.
Overall, Glancey described summer as being “mediocre” or “medium.”
“Nobody was in tears, but no one was overjoyed,” he told the board members.
Mike Monichetti, owner of Mike’s Seafood & Dock Restaurant, said based on what he heard from people who stopped in at his Sea Isle eatery, it was his opinion that summer was “so-so.”
In one key indicator, Sea Isle had $1,364,320 in beach tag revenue this summer, just $645 short of the figure for 2017, the city announced last week. City officials said beach tag sales recovered from some dreary weather during the early part of summer to end strong.
Year after year, beach tag sales are used as a barometer of the strength of the summer season. In Sea Isle’s case, the all-time record was set in 2015 with $1,471,321 in beach tag revenue.
Glancey and other Chamber officials explained that Sea Isle not only faced some challenges posed by the rain this summer, but was also hurt by inaccurate weather forecasts for the Jersey Shore by the Philadelphia news media.
Wes Kasmarck, owner of the Birdcage fashion boutique in Sea Isle, bluntly said the Philadelphia media outlets “don’t do a good job” of predicting the weather at the shore.
Worried about the negative impact on tourism, Sea Isle business leaders are increasingly dismayed by what they believe are over-hyped or flawed forecasts about bad weather at the shore by the Philadelphia TV stations.
On any given day, the summer weather at the shore can be dramatically different than the weather two hours away in the Philadelphia region, where Sea Isle draws many of its tourists.
“It could be raining in Philadelphia and sunny here,” Glancey said.
Hoping to give tourists better forecasts, the Chamber of Commerce is planning to pay a local meteorologist to develop video weather reports for the shore that will be posted on the organization’s website at www.seaislechamber.com beginning next spring.
Despite the rain, Chamber officials said tourism was robust during the weekends. However, the traditionally slow days of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday proved challenging again for the business community this summer.
“Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, how do we get those days improved?” Glancey asked.
Similar to this year, the Chamber and the city plan to continue offering free, family-friendly entertainment during every summer night of the week, except Sundays, in Excursion Park in 2019 as a way to attract visitors. The business community hopes that those visitors will spend their money at the local shops and restaurants while they are in town for the entertainment.
After summer, the Chamber and the city sponsor a series of special events through the fall and up to New Year’s Eve to draw visitors during the off-season.