Summer 2024 Tourism Outlook ‘Pretty Robust’

The general outlook for businesses at the Jersey Shore heading into the summer of 2024 is “pretty robust,” but there are some concerns, especially with no beach concerts in Atlantic City this year and New York casinos looming on the horizon.

That was the overall sentiment from a panel of local experts who spoke at the 16th annual Jersey Shorecast on May 8, sponsored by the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism (LIGHT) at the Stockton University School of Business. The discussion was held at the Stockton University Atlantic City John F. Scarpa Academic Center and streamed online.

LIGHT Faculty Director Jane Bokunewicz opened the discussion, which was moderated by Bre Young ’20, the event coordinator and project manager for Good Time Tricycle Productions. Good Time Tricycle has put together several events in the Atlantic City area, including the Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival.

This year’s panelists had an Atlantic City focus and included:

Mark Callazzo, managing partner, RMS Capital. Callazzo is the man behind the revitalization of the Orange Loop in Atlantic City and is co-owner of the Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall, Cuzzie’s Pizzeria, Rhythm & Spirits and Bar 32 Chocolate.
Oliver Cooke, associate professor of Economics at Stockton and editor of the South Jersey Economic Review.
Daniel Gallagher, director of sports sales for the Atlantic City Sports Commission.
Gary Musich, vice president of sales and destination services for Visit Atlantic City.

“I’m cautiously optimistic for the summer,” Cooke said. “Job growth right now has kind of picked up over the first quarter for Atlantic City proper, relative to where we were in late 2023. Unemployment remains very, very low. My sense is that we’re in a pretty decent place with all the headline metrics.”

Before the discussion, Bokunewicz presented statistics that highlighted some of the successes of 2023, especially at Atlantic City casinos. Total gross gaming revenue ($1.4 billion) was up 11% from 2022 primarily due to growth in internet gaming and sports betting, in-person gross gaming revenue ($811 million) was up 1% from 2022 and nongaming net revenue was 45% of the total net revenue compared to 39% in previous years.

But not all of the numbers were positive as overnight stays were up 8% but were shorter than in previous years. Casino employment was up in general, but labor shortages were still a factor. Also, several panelists from the fall Jersey Shoreview reported that weather was a negative factor in the summer of 2023, Bokunewicz said.

Callazzo said 2023 wasn’t great for his businesses, and he attributed some of that to a belief that many people finally felt comfortable taking big trips — three years after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Yeah (last year) was not, not good,” he said. “Our customer count was down. Our average check was down. … I think that a lot of the tourism was lost to people taking the trips that they had put off for three years.”

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