SEA ISLE CITY — Snow was still on the ground Monday morning, but inside City Hall, Mayor Len Desiderio kicked off summer at the shore.
“Many of us have had enough of this winter,” he said to loud applause as he announced the island’s newest tourism slogan, “The Forecast is Fun!”
The slogan, along with a new website — www.visitsicnj.com — and a new mobile app available on all mobile devices, is part of the city’s 2014 marketing campaign designed to get tourists to town early and often.
Diane Wieland, director of tourism for Cape May County, stood beside Desiderio as he announced the city’s latest efforts.
“What Sea Isle City is doing today is something we all need to do,” Wieland said of the mayor’s pre-summer proclamation.
She said New Jersey sometimes battles the reputation of what she calls the three S’s — Sopranos, Snooki and Sandy — and in the case of this winter, the fourth S, snow.
Wieland said those challenges can be overcome with promotional efforts that highlight the shore and what it has to offer.
“We need to continue to expand our season. Starting in February is not a bad thing,” she said.
The Forecast is Fun slogan is already on billboards in and around Philadelphia along I-95, targeting residents in Chester and Delaware counties, and along the Walt Whitman Bridge.
Diane Merson, the city’s tourism representative, said Sea Isle’s $115,000 tourism budget supports the billboards as well as print, radio and online advertising. The city is not using television commercials this year.
“We’re putting our money into the Web this year,” Merson said of the new website and mobile application.
Desiderio touted the app as the best way to find out what’s going on in town.
“You can be in Disney World and say, ‘I wonder what’s happening in Sea Isle City when I get back,’” he said of the app’s reliability. “It’s a must-have for everyone.”
The new slogan replaces “We’re Ready,” put into place in response to Hurricane Sandy, which damaged many properties in Sea Isle City when it hit in October 2012.
The unveiling coincides with the city’s 20th annual Polar Bear Plunge, which is being held this weekend.
Desiderio estimated that more than 3,500 people will jump into the ocean for the event and about 50,000 in all will come to town for the three days of festivities.
Ninety percent of the city’s businesses, normally shuttered for winter, will open for the weekend.
“There’s not a room to be rented. There’s not a house to be rented,” he said of the weekend’s popularity.
Wieland said adding to the traditional summer season is key to building on the county’s $5.2 billion tourism industry.
“We can no longer just promote in the summer,” Wieland said, adding, “This is the next big thing in tourism promotion.”
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