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Study: Tourism indicators find Atlantic City may have finally shaken off Sandy

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Israel Posner, Director of Stockton College's Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality & Tourism
Israel Posner, Director of Stockton College's Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality & Tourism - ()

Atlantic City’s tourism industry appears to have shaken off the lingering effects of Hurricane Sandy, according to a study released today by Stockton College.

Researchers at the college drew their conclusion after studying trends in three tourism performance indicators — luxury taxes, hotel taxes and parking fees in the resort town. Year over year, luxury tax collections improved slightly in the first quarter, by 2.3 percent, after the October storm prevented such growth in the fourth quarter of last year.

The report also noted hotel occupancy taxes leveled off in March after a year-over-year spike in January, which had suggested a lingering demand for temporary housing after Sandy. Bryan Tyrell, a Stockton researcher who co-authored the report, said given such a trend, “it appears the impact of Sandy on lodging demand has run its course.”

The researchers did not find such convincing evidence in a study of data from the casino parking fee, which is collected by the gaming halls and largely turned over to the state. Such collections fell 7.5 percent in the first quarter, the report said, but at least appeared to be reversing their decline after the storm ended a growth streak of four straight quarters.

The report, which was produced by Stockton’s Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality & Tourism, is the second installment in a study aimed better measuring Atlantic City’s performance as a tourism and nongaming economy.

“It appears that the industry can be cautiously optimistic going into quarters two and three,” Israel Posner, director of the institute, said in a prepared statement. 

Citywide gaming revenues, meanwhile, continue to decline, as state regulators reported Monday that year-over-year casino winnings fell 3.8 percent in May, to $253.1 million. Four of the city’s 12 casinos saw gaming revenue increase, led by the Atlantic Club’s 24.5 percent jump, while the ailing Revel saw winnings fall nearly 20 percent.

A separate monthly report released Monday found that most non-gaming business indicators remained steady in May, though new convention business helped drive up hotel room nights. Room nights for shows at the Atlantic City Convention Center increased 11 percent, to 6,386, while room nights for hotel exhibits jumped by 85 percent, to 9,882.

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