Tourism Spending in LBI Region Totals $1.2 BillionNew Study Puts a Number on Specific Area
A number now declares the value of tourism in the Long Beach Island region, and it starts with a “b” for “billion.” Spending in 2011 totaled $1.2 billion at hotels, restaurants, retail shops and other Southern Ocean County businesses.
The 2011 Tourism Economic Impact Study was performed by Rockport Analytics, an independent market research firm. The Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce ordered the study through the budget of its Long Beach Island Region Destination Marketing Organization.
“The goal of the study was to understand the full economic contribution resulting from visitation to the LBI region to county and the state,” said the chamber’s DMO director, Lori Pepenella.
Visitors (and summer residents dining and purchasing here) spent $459 million on lodging, $296 million on food and beverages, $259 million on shopping and $115 million on entertainment and recreation.
Another finding is that the region’s tourism accounts for 14 percent of all employment in Ocean County, or 20,300 jobs.
Eighty-three cents of each dollar spent in the area by LBI Region visitors is kept within Ocean County, the research further revealed.
An in-depth presentation of the study will be featured on Jan. 8 at the State of the Chamber summit held by the chamber at Sea Oaks Country Club in Little Egg Harbor Township. Rockport Analytics representatives will be there to detail the information and the methods by which it was obtained.
“This provides a tool for people looking to open a business in the area, or for current businesses; for nonprofits that need to write grants; for small businesses that may need data for loans,” noted Pepenella in an interview with The SandPaper on Monday.
This is a new gauge of local tourism’s value to the area as well as to the county and state, Pepenella said.
“Usually what has been done is that the county provides us with an overall number for Ocean County, but we were never able to pinpoint what our region is doing. This really boils it down to the role that the LBI Region plays in supporting the county and state,” Pepenella said.
The project overview states that “if LBI Region tourism did not exist, each household in Ocean County would have to pay an additional $826 in state and local taxes in order to maintain current levels of tax receipts.” That figure refers to the $300 million total in taxes generated by region tourism in 2011.
Stafford Township plays a large part in “LBI Region” tourism, the study confirmed. “The study shows where the seasonal homes are, and the largest percentage is in Long Beach Township, but the second-largest number is actually in Stafford Township,” Pepenella said.
“It helps businesses on a lot of different levels,” she said. “If you’re a theater or an organization looking to market yourself, or if Realtors are looking for tools to help rent storefronts, for instance.
“There is no illusion of what we are; we know we are a $1.2 billion industry. And I think that’s pretty impressive.”
The $15,000 study was initiated in 2010 by the DMO on behalf of the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce. Funding for the study came from the budget of the DMO grant from the state. The 2011 Chamber/DMO budget totaled $176,200. This included promotional spending for an array of events, marketing literature and other expenses, as well as other operating costs for the DMO and the chamber Visitor Center in Ship Bottom.
For information on attending the January 2013 State of the Chamber meeting, contact the chamber office at 609-494 7211 or online at visitLBIregion.com.
— Maria Scandale