ATLANTIC CITY — The 2018 Atlantic City Airshow was good enough reason Wednesday for Gaetano Nicosia to take the day off from his job as a carpenter at the University of Pennsylvania.
Nicosia, 59, of Ridley, Pennsylvania, decided to attend the airshow for the first time because it offered him a chance to spend a day on the beach with his son, Joey Nicosia, 29, of South Philadelphia.
“I have always been fascinated by airplanes, and I have been wanting to come for years,” said the elder Nicosia, who added he used to catch the Army-Navy college football game just to see the flybys, which would last about five seconds.
The Atlantic City Airshow, aka Thunder Over the Boardwalk, is Atlantic City’s single largest free event and the largest airshow of its kind.
Crowds Wednesday were estimated at “upwards of 400,000 to a half a million people, which is great for midweek,” said Larry Sieg, director of communications and marketing with the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority. In 2017, the Greater Atlantic City Chamber estimated airshow visitors at 400,000.
Video submitted by Josh Raff
The airshow looks to have attracted the second highest number of people to the resort this year, after the dual openings of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City and Ocean Resort Casino in late June. And, for a city that last year saw the fewest visitors since 1982, Wednesday’s show meant a potentially big boost to the city’s tourism economy.
“The airshow will perhaps act as a catalyst for those thinking about a trip to A.C. to see the new properties. This should, in turn, positively impact room revenue, food and beverage and possibly gaming revenue as well, allowing for a complete destination experience,” said Rummy Pandit, executive director of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute for Gaming, Hospitality & Tourism at Stockton University.
Last year’s 24.1 million tourist visits to the resort marked a 1.2 percent decrease from the previous year’s 24.4 million, according to a report from the Levenson Institute, which noted 22.9 million people visited the resort in 1982.
The historic dual openings of the Hard Rock and Ocean Resort on June 28 likely will finish at No. 1 for tourists visits this year, according to traffic data released this summer.