A new $25 million tourism marketing campaign could be coming to the Jersey Shore as part of the state's recovery efforts following Hurricane Sandy.
Gov. Chris Christie has proposed devoting $25 million from federal disaster relief funding to promote storm-impacted businesses and shore communities.
The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which is responsible for tourism marketing in the state, would handle the funds under the current proposal, according to Assemblyman Chris Brown, who sponsored the legislation calling for the use of the federal money for tourism advertising.
Brown, R-Atlantic, said the funding could not come at a more critical time, citing the exaggerated reports that circulated regarding Atlantic City's supposedly destroyed Boardwalk following Hurricane Sandy.
"From the beaches, boardwalks, bed and breakfasts, (and) amusement piers to skee ball games, we are ready to go for the summer season," Brown said in a written statement Wednesday. "This money will allow us to talk about the Jersey Shore rather than Al Roker, who still thinks Atlantic City's Boardwalk is floating in the ocean."
A poll conducted earlier this year by the Atlantic City Alliance, a nonprofit marketing organization, found that as of January, 25 percent of people polled nationwide believed the resort's Boardwalk was destroyed, and 32 percent of people in the Northeast thought the same thing. Those numbers were down from statistics released two months earlier that found 41 percent of people nationwide and 52 percent in the Northeast thought the Boardwalk was gone.
The funding, which would be derived from $1.8 billion in federal disaster relief, isn't yet finalized.
Christie submitted his plan, including the tourism appropriation, on Tuesday to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. A seven-day public comment period ends March 19, and the agency then has 45 days to respond.
The marketing increase would be significant. New Jersey currently budgets $9 million a year for tourism promotion, Brown said.
The alliance, which leads the resort's "Do AC" campaign and has focused on using images of Atlantic City's intact Boardwalk, wouldn't be involved in allocating the new marketing dollars but always seeks to coordinate with other efforts in the state, alliance spokesman Jeff Guaracino said.
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