A recent Tourism Economics study prepared for The Greater Wildwoods Tourism Improvement & Development Authority (GWTIDA) announced a record-breaking tourism season for the Wildwoods in 2022 – one which resulted in $1.9 billion in visitor spending; 7,765 jobs created; and $167 million in state and local tax revenue generated.
Significant to these impressive numbers is the fact that they demonstrate that the Wildwoods account for a substantial portion of the total tourism revenue for Cape May County.
“The Wildwoods continue to outperform industry benchmarks for tourism growth each year by developing strategic marketing and public relations initiatives aimed at communicating the major attributes that make the Wildwoods a truly unique family vacation destination,” said John Siciliano, GWTIDA executive director/CFO.
For this study, Tourism Economics utilized a model detailing the far-reaching impacts arising from visitor spending. The results of this study show the scope of the travel sector in terms of direct visitor spending, as well as the total economic impacts, jobs, and fiscal (tax) impacts in the broader economy.
Visitor spending in the Wildwoods increased 10.6% in 2022 after significant growth in 2021. Spending grew across all categories, driven by greater demand and higher prices. Among all spending categories, growth in lodging was especially notable in 2022. Following an 18% increase in 2021, spending on lodging increased a further 18% in 2022, reaching 131% of 2019 pre-pandemic levels.
Recreation spending resulted in $454 million, 23% of visitor spending. Food and beverage and retail captured 22% and 10% of visitor spending, respectively. Transportation within the destination, including purchases of gasoline and money spent on parking, registered $38 million, 2% of visitor spending.
Overall, the Wildwoods account for almost 20% of visitor-supported employment in Cape May County. The Wildwoods and Cape May County have experienced strong growth and recovery compared to the state, although the Wildwoods lead both in visitor-supported employment growth.
Direct visitor-supported employment expanded 8.8% in 2022 and topped pre-pandemic levels in both 2021 and 2022, due to strong visitor spending and demand at shore locations. If every visitor-supported employee in the Wildwoods stood shoulder-to-shoulder, the line would stretch 1.93 miles, approximately 77% of the boardwalk’s length.
Overall, labor incomes have grown faster than employment in the Wildwoods. The $283 million in total labor income generated by tourism is the equivalent of more than $50,000 per Wildwoods resident.
Visitor spending generated $166.7 million in government revenues in 2022. Each household in the Wildwoods would need to be taxed an additional $1,246 to replace the visitor-generated taxes from lodging alone in 2022. Local lodging and tourism tax collections continued to climb dramatically after pandemic-related declines in 2020. Following growth of 67% in 2021, local tourism and lodging taxes grew an additional 12% in 2022.
The $167 million in state and local taxes generated by visitor spending would cover the salaries of approximately 2,804 public school teachers.
The 2022 marketing and public relations campaigns played a significant role in the Wildwoods’ record-breaking performance. The destination brought back the ‘Love Those Wildwood Days’ theme song and highlighted an all-new video showing highlights of everything there is to do in the Wildwoods, from relaxing on the Wildwoods’ spacious, clean, and FREE white-sand beaches, to exploring the 38-block world-famous boardwalk with three action-packed amusement piers featuring over 100 rides and attractions, three beachfront waterparks, great shopping, fun carnival games and flashing arcades, plus unique dining, and nightlife experiences. The Wildwoods also offer a wide assortment of accommodations to meet everyone’s needs and budget; from beautiful beachfront hotels and motels, to condos, townhouses, and many different vacation rentals. The Wildwoods deliver one-of-a-kind value for family vacations at the New Jersey shore. With over 160 events and festivals throughout the year, and an abundance of fun things to do, visitors will find something that excites and satisfies everyone in their family.
The new 2023 tourism ad campaign ‘Get Lost in The Woods… the Wildwoods!’ highlights the feeling you get the minute you arrive in the Wildwoods, where you can leave all your worries and troubles behind and get lost in a world of fun and relaxation. It also touts everything vacationers could ever want in a safe, fun vacation experience – all on one 5-mile island.
The campaign features two all-new TV commercials showing highlights of everything there is to do in the Wildwoods, along with traditional print ads, digital and social media ads, billboards and more touting the famous destination’s many assets and amenities.
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