Saturday, July 03, 2010

Gulf Oil Spill drives Southerners to the Jersey Shore

It may have been inevitable as BP and the Federal Government have fiddled while the Gulf of Mexico has been fouled by the oil spill. Southern tourists who would normally vacation along the afflicted shores of the Gulf are seeking other destinations. And many are headed for the Jersey Shore. This is good news for New Jersey tourism, but may be extra-bad news for Gulf towns whose only real economy is serving tourists.

Local tourism officials can't provide hard numbers, but cars from Texas, Mississippi, Tennessee, and other states below the Mason-Dixon Line appear to be in greater supply at the Shore this summer.

"I'm hearing a lot more southern accents this year," said Susan Martin, a reservations manager at the Golden Inn in Avalon. "And I just love the sound of it."

There has been an increase in the number of Southerners booking rooms, Martin said. They don't say why they are coming, she said, but many have identified themselves as first-timers.

The newcomers are finding their way largely on their own, say those in the tourism industry. New Jersey this year eliminated its national multimillion-dollar Shore promotional campaign, leaving resort towns complaining even before the gulf disaster about their inability to compete with rivals such as Ocean City, Md.

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