With favorable winter weather conditions, an improving economy and a positive outlook as businesses and visitors alike anticipated the unveiling of the Tourism District Master Plan, business in Atlantic City held its course in January, according to Elaine Zamansky, of the Atlantic City Visitors & Convention Authority, in a recent news release.

Some key business indicators point to a continuing upward trend, including visitors at the city's information centers and activity on the official tourism Web site, www.atlanticcitynj.com.  The trend of monthly increases at the information centers continued with more than 6,000 visitors stopping for maps, general information, and room and restaurant reservations, a 25.9% increase over January 2011. 

Overall Web site visits increased by 30% over January 2011, with 342,971 people viewing information about Atlantic City's hotels, entertainment, restaurants, attractions and events.   Nearly 277,000 were unique visitors, a 26% increase over 2011.  Web statistics are generally considered to be indicative of strong interest in Atlantic City as a destination or quick getaway. Traffic on the Atlantic City Expressway remained strong in January as well.

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Unaudited January figures from the South Jersey Transportation Authority (SJTA) show 1,540,882 cars passed through the Atlantic City Expressway's Pleasantville toll plaza leading into Atlantic City, up 7.6% over January 2011.  At the Atlantic City International Airport, additional capacity on Spirit Airlines flights offset AirTrans Airlines' departure from the market.  Total scheduled deplanements - passengers arriving in Atlantic City -- increased by 1.1% over January 2011 deplanements. 

Atlantic City also remains an attractive market for convention delegates.  While four fewer conventions and tradeshows were held in January 2012 vs. January 2011, attendance was up 2% and delegate spending increased by 11% over January 2011.  "Atlantic City appears to be on a solid footing," said Jeff Vasser, president of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority.  "With the upcoming opening of Revel, new amenities at Golden Nugget, rebranding of ACH to the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel, recent announcements of changes at Steel Pier and Bally's, plus the ACA's citywide marketing campaign and the improvements we anticipate as a result of the Tourism District Master Plan, Atlantic City will continue to gain market strength." Spectrum Gaming Group provides the following additional insight to factors impacting January's business climate: "On a calendar day basis, January 2012 was less favorable than January last year, as there was one less "weekend" day this year versus January 2011 (there was one more Saturday last year).

Overall, there were 21 public events held in January 2012, versus 30 comparable events in January 2011, a decrease of 30 percent. "On a positive note, overall the weather was unseasonably pleasant in the region (as compared to last year) - there were no major snowstorms or extreme cold spells. According to the National Weather Service, the average temperature for January 2012 reported at Atlantic City was nearly 10 degrees warmer than January of last year (at 39.2 degrees vs. 29.7 degrees), while there were only two days where the high temperature did not get above freezing, compared to eight days in January of last year. Additionally, snowfall was minimal this year compared to having over a foot of snow fall in January of last year (at 2.3 inches vs. 13.4 inches)."

Spectrum also notes factors that may impact Atlantic City visitation in the future: "Toll increases went into effect on the entire length of the Garden State Parkway (the primary roadway utilized for travelers coming to Atlantic City), as well as on the New Jersey Turnpike and bridge crossings into New York. These toll increases went into effect on January 1st and had the effect of increasing toll costs for drivers using these roadways by as much as 50 percent. Coupled with the toll increases, the average price for a gallon of cost in the region last month was 10 percent higher than January of last year (at $3.52 vs. $3.20). In addition to the toll increases and higher gas prices, the second phase of the Garden State Parkway widening project continues and there is considerable construction occurring over a 15-mile stretch of the roadway in southern New Jersey." The figures quoted above and others are available in the monthly Tourism Barometer, available online at http://www.atlanticcitynj.com/about/stats.asp

After a spectacular run through the Bellator Season 5 Bantamweight Tournament, Eduardo “Dudu” Dantas (@Dudantas22) has earned his world title shot. With victories over Wilson Reis, Ed West and the explosive Olympian Alexis Vila, Dantas is just a win away from becoming a World Champion when he battles reigning Bellator Bantamweight world Champion Zach “Fun Size” Makovsky (@ZachFunSize) on Friday, April 13 from Atlantic City’s historic Boardwalk Hall.

Tickets for the event are now on sale and can be purchased online at ticketmaster.com, by phone at (609) 348-7000 and at the Boardwalk Hall box office. Tickets are priced from $50-$150. The event will also be broadcast LIVE starting at 8 p.m. EST on MTV2 and in commercial-free HD on EPIX. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. EST, with the first fight scheduled for 7 p.m. EST. The preliminary card, featuring the area’s top local talent will be streamed LIVE and FREE around the world on Spike.com starting at 7 p.m. EST.

For more information, visit Bellator.com, follow Bellator on Twitter @BellatorMMA, follow Bellator Chairman & CEO Bjorn Rebney @BjornRebney and check out Bellator on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Bellator

The African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey (AAHMSJ) will proudly host a 10th Anniversary Celebration on Wednesday, February 29 at 6:00 p.m. in the Carriage House in Galloway. The event will include a silent auction, music by Jazz Subset, dinner and awards ceremony. The museum will formally recognize those who have provided corporate and civic support for its endeavors: Atlantic City Free Public Library, AtlantiCare, Buena Vista Township, and The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. For information on making reservations for the 10th Anniversary Celebration, call Diane at 609-704-5495 or e-mail rhunter@aahmsnj.org. Admission to the Celebration is $75 per person. Proceeds from this event support our traveling museum program and free admission to the museum.

The mission of AAHMSNJ is to celebrate the African American Experience through its exhibitions and its educational programs. Since its inception, we have been committed to enhancing cultural and historical educational opportunities, while creating and sustaining a community-revered African American cultural institution that is accessible to children, families and communities of Southern New Jersey.  Current exhibits at the museum include Stealing Home: How Jackie Robinson Changed America and Stereotypes. The museum is housed in the Martin Luther King Center located at 661 Jackson Road in Newtonville, NJ. The museum is open Tuesday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and on Monday and Saturdays by appointment only. Directions are available at www.aahmsnj.org. Admission is free, however donations are accepted with appreciation.