Ticket sales for the murder-mystery dinner fundraiser Friday to benefit the Tuckerton Seaport are a little slower than previous years, but development director Brooke Salvanto is not complaining.
“People are happy we are still having it,” she said of concerns that impact of Hurricane Sandy on the Engleside Inn in Beach Haven, where the event will be held, might force it to be cancelled. “The Inn is fine. It was open the entire time. It’s important to us not to cancel so people will know we are all open and operating.”
As the longterm consequences of Hurricane Sandy continue to play out at the shore, nonprofit and tourism groups are concerned that ongoing talk of damages will lead visitors to think that entire towns are closed.
On Monday, Acting Gov. Kim Guadagno kicked off a Valentine-themed “Show Your Love for the Jersey Shore” initiative at Point Pleasant to spread the word that restaurants, hotels and entertainment venues are up and running. On Wednesday, Long Beach Island will hold a kickoff event at the Stateroom on Long Beach Island.
“It’s hard, because all of the media has been so focused on the tragedy, and that is important,” said Lori Pepenella, Destination Marketing Director for the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce and statewide chair of the state Destination Marketing Organizations. “But the business community needs to get the message out that we are open.”
The new campaign will be a public-private partnership, with the state Division of Travel and Tourism using Facebook, Twitter and other social media to distribute news about special promotions offered by shore attractions with a special “Show Your Love for the Jersey Shore” logo.
At a workshop for nonprofit groups last week at Richard Stockton College’s Manahawkin site, representatives said they are open and promoting summer programs, but there are people who think those programs no longer exist.
Paul Hart, executive director of the Tuckerton Seaport, said they did have some damage, but they have cleaned up. Its four major buildings are open.
Kristy Redford, of the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences, said it had no damage but has donated space for artists who lost their work space. The foundation has held fundraisers and an after-school arts program for the Long Beach Island School District, which had to close one school because of storm damage. The foundation is working on summer camp registrations.
“There is so much to look forward to, but we also need help,” Redford said. “We did lose revenue, and nonprofits rely on donations. We are trying to counteract the message of destruction.”
Tourists spent $38 billion on their visits to New Jersey in 2011, a 7 percent increase over 2010, according to state tourism data. Tourism-related employment supports some 312,000 jobs and more than $9.5 billion in wages.
Members of the Long Beach Alliance of Non-Profits said they are working together to spread the word they are open.
“We are committed to showing that we are not just open. We are ready to rock ‘n’ roll,” said Christine Rooney of the Lighthouse International Film Festival, which will hold a dessert and movie event Saturday at the LBI Foundation.
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