Statistics released Monday that track Atlantic City’s nongambling offerings are encouraging, officials said, even though the resort’s casino market has continued to struggle in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
Convention and event business largely stabilized in January, with the Atlantic City Convention Center hosting six events and Boardwalk Hall hosting four — both on par with the number of events held at the venues in January 2012, according to tourism statistics from the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority.
The Convention Center hosted the same number of shows, but noted a significant increase in the number of people attending the events. Nearly twice as many people — 40,400 in all — attended events at the Convention Center, spending $19.5 million while in the city. Conversely, 24,820 people attended the events at Boardwalk Hall, a 19 percent decrease over the previous January.
ACCVA President Jeffrey Vasser said he believes the positive data can be attributed in part to those who took advantage of New Year’s activities to see how the resort weathered the storm.
“It’s natural that the public is curious to known how Atlantic City fared during the hurricane,” Vasser said. “We expect that interest to remain high as more people discover all of our nongaming amenities.
Atlantic City Alliance spokesman Jeff Guaracino said while those statistics are good news, there’s still more work to be done. Since the storm, the ACA, a casino-funded marketing organization, has engaged in surveys gauging the nationwide perception of the resort. The most recent survey in January showed that 25 percent of people nationwide still believe the Boardwalk was destroyed entirely by the storm. That’s down from 41 percent of people who believed the Boardwalk had been destroyed in a poll conducted in November.
“That’s a pretty big perception issue to overcome,” Guaracino said, adding that the alliance is re-launching its radio campaign focusing on Atlantic City’s recovery from the hurricane.
Transportation statistics also released Monday by the ACCVA show traffic counts at the Atlantic City Expressway’s Pleasantville toll plaza saw a nearly 8 percent decrease over last January, with 1.4 million vehicles passing through the toll.
Vasser said while the traffic counts are lower, he believes visitors are staying longer and enjoying more of the resort’s amenities — statistics that the authority plans to track with a greater degree of precision in the coming months.
“We will be able to include additional statistics to gauge activity in the retail and dining sectors to provide a more robust picture of the city’s nongaming business activity,” Vasser said.
The ACCVA initially hoped the more detailed tourism barometers, compiled by Spectrum Gaming Group, would be unveiled this month, but additional time was needed, Vasser said. The new barometers will break down spending in retail, food and beverage, and ticket sales.
Contact Jennifer Bogdan:
Follow @ACPressJennifer on Twitter