SEA BRIGHT, NJ – The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders reflected on a summer season like no other today during their press conference held at Woody’s Ocean Grille in Sea Bright.
“It is remarkable to look back at the success of this summer season when just a few months ago we were not sure what it would look like or if our beaches would be open in time for visitors due to the pandemic,” said Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone, liaison to Monmouth County Tourism. “It took teamwork and constant communication between our shore towns to ensure we were able to provide beachgoers with a safe place to visit and enjoy during this unprecedented summer season.”
Freeholder Director Arnone said he initiated weekly calls with the shore mayors as early as last April to make sure they had what they needed to provide their employees and visitors a safe environment. He noted the successful beach season was due, in large part, to the towns’ willingness to adapt to changing social-distancing policies throughout the summer and learning best practices from one another.
“I’m pleased to announce our beaches brought in over $23.5 million in total beach badge revenue this summer,” said Freeholder Director Arnone. “While we’re still waiting on the final number from a few towns that just wrapped up an extended season, we’ve already exceeded the $23 million total in 2019.”
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Tourism is a top industry in Monmouth County, bringing in more than 8.9 million visitors annually and $2.6 billion in visitor spending. While official tourism statistics for the 2020 season are not expected to be reported by the State until 2021, Freeholder Director Arnone expects a big dip in visitor spending.
“Our small business community was hit extremely hard by the pandemic and statewide shutdown,” said Freeholder Director Arnone. “While our beaches reopened in time for the Memorial Day holiday weekend, the State shutdown left a majority of our businesses closed until mid-June. Moreover, our restaurants and other food establishments were prohibited from providing indoor dining all summer.”
Freeholder Director Arnone commended the municipalities that worked with the business community in a fast manner to create pedestrian plazas so restaurants and stores could provide outdoor dining and shopping. Monmouth County’s Division of Public Works and Engineering, which Freeholder Director Arnone also serves as the liaison, also processed requests for businesses located on County roads.
“As cooler weather creeps in, it is important we continue to support our local businesses. Fall is one of the best times to visit Monmouth County and our restaurants, downtowns and stores have a lot to offer to our residents and visitors long past the last warm beach day,” said Freeholder Director Arnone.