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Report: Atlantic City tourism still recovering in wake of 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 - ()

Travel and entertainment spending in Atlantic City slipped this spring, due largely to a cold and rainy June that kept visitors away from shore towns, according to a report issued today by Stockton College.

In their latest quarterly study (PDF), researchers at the college said receipts for three key tourism metrics each fell in the second quarter from the same period last year:

- The city luxury tax, a measure of resort entertainment activity, was down 8.4 percent.

- The city casino parking fee, a measure of transportation spending, was down 9.6 percent.

- The county hotel occupancy fee, a measure of overnight tourist spending, was down 7.6 percent.

The report said there "appears to be a regional impact on hotel performance" in Ocean, Atlantic and Cape May counties, "likely associated with both unseasonably cold weather (in June) and improvement projects on the Garden State Parkway."

The decline follows double-digit growth in the second quarters of 2012 and 2011, but also a first-quarter report that said Atlantic City was shaking off the effects of Hurricane Sandy.

"The challenges to the tourism industry in the second quarter were not isolated to Atlantic City," said Israel Posner, executive director of the college's Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism. "We know that the southern New Jersey coast from Ocean to Cape May counties was affected by the downturn."

It may be a much different picture for Atlantic City next June, when the resort will welcome the international Challenge Family triathlon. Organizers and state officials project the event will draw 2,000 athletes and their families from around the world.

The 141-mile race will be the U.S. debut for the Roth, Germany-based Challenge Family, and another feather in Atlantic City's cap as it raises its tourism profile.

However, the city's gaming revenue continues to slide from pre-recession levels. Regulators reported that casino winnings last month fell 4.8 percent from August 2013, with only three of the state's 12 gaming halls recording increases.

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