(Aug. 30, 2013) Tourism indicators for July show a considerable recovery of the resort economy after a slow June with a less-than-stellar performance blamed largely on wet weather.
Anecdotal evidence from resort businesses indicated that the Memorial Day push was delayed this year to the Fourth of July, an observation substantiated by numbers: July’s hotel occupancy is reported up 3 percent over July 2012, in contrast with June’s decline of 3 percent compared to June 2012.
“I think that’s pretty significant considering all of the challenges we’ve had this year,” Tourism Director Donna Abbott told the City Council this week. “We’re still outperforming the majority of the set we’re compared to.”
That data comes from a monthly report by Smith Travel Research, which aggregates booking information from partnered hotels, typically large franchise chains.
July indicated a relative improvement for Ocean City as well as those resorts that Smith Travel considers to be competitors. New Jersey, in particular, has seen drops of up to 20 percent in its occupancy over the past two months compared to last year. In July, however, Atlantic City saw a relatively minor decrease of 2.9 percent over last year, and the Jersey Shore reported a decline of 1.6 percent.
Ocean City’s 3 percent occupancy boost bested all of its competitors except the Coastal Carolina resort set, which saw an increase of 4.9 percent.
Those resorts, realtors say, are becoming increasingly competitive with Ocean City’s business.
Although its average per-room rate rose only 1 percent – less than any of its competitors – Ocean City’s rates remain significantly higher than other resorts. July’s average price per night of $172.90 was far above the second-highest average on Smith Travel’s competitor set, which was Virginia Beach at $145.52.
Still, Ocean City’s average revenue per available room, occupied or not, still rose 4.1 percent over last July, bested only by Virginia Beach at 6 percent and the Coastal Carolina set at 7.7 percent.
The relative improvement of numbers for July versus June’s disappointments has been attributed largely to weather. Since May, Abbott has been issuing comprehensive reports that feature a number of possible indicators as to the town’s number of visitors.
Notably, June of 2013 featured 6.21 inches of total rainfall, versus 2.76 inches in 2012.
“Some of our outdoor business, I’m sure, was impacted by that,” Abbott said.
Monthly reports also include bus ridership and solid waste collection. The latter was up from 6,022.26 tons in July 2012 to 6,110.01 this July, while the former was down from 655,184 passengers last July to 620,555 this year, according to data from the city’s Public Works Department.
Over a period of years, those statistics are “scarily consistent,” noted Public Works Director Hal Adkins. Bus ridership is consistently lower in August than it is in June or July, while solid waste is consistently lower in June than it is in July or August. Much of the town’s fluctuation in solid waste hauling is created by the restaurant business, Adkins said.
“In June, we’re likely seeing a younger crowd that uses the bus more and has less disposable income to spend on food,” Adkins said, “versus later in the summer when we’re getting larger families.”