Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno traveled to Montreal today to assure Canadian tourism officials that despite the damage inflicted by Hurricane Sandy, the Jersey Shore will be open for business this summer.
Guadagno spoke this morning at a travel and tourism panel during the Jersey Cape media breakfast at the Hilton Montreal Bonaventure.
Images of Sandy's destruction in places such as Seaside Heights have been broadcast internationally, which has forced the state to market its coast as still being open for business, especially in places like Cape May, which were spared the worst of the storm. And Canadian tourism is a huge industry in Cape May — the local chamber of commerce says some half a million Canadian visitors spend $135 million in the county each year.
Guadagno could not immediately be reached for comment through a spokesman.
"A significant portion of our tourists in July and August are from Canada, and the average stay is 10 days," said John Cooke, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Cape May. "They come for warmer water temperatures than they would find up north. They love our beaches and the overall feel of the entire county. They also have a competitive edge with the exchange rate — they get more value for their dollar."
The chamber has been using social media, along with newspaper advertisements in Philadelphia and Baltimore, to get the word out that the county is ready for the tourism season. The chamber also partners with tourism offices in Montreal.
"It takes a cross-section of people to help generate 100 percent occupancy for the island in general," Cooke said. "The Canadians are an important segment to our economy throughout the summer months."
Many of Cape May City's hotels boast names befitting its affinity for French Canadian tourists, such as Beauclaire's Bed and Breakfast Inn, La Mer Beachfront Inn and the Montreal Inn.