Grace Hanlon, executive director of the state Division of Travel and Tourism, told representatives of southern New Jersey’s tourism industry and the media that despite the lingering effects of Hurricane Sandy, “We are stronger than the storm.”

Hanlon was the keynote speaker at the fifth Jersey Shorecast, an event hosted by the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality & Tourism (LIGHT) of The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey at Stockton Seaview. College President Herman Saatkamp introduced Hanlon.

The tourism director said the state is investing $25 million in promoting the Jersey shore’s readiness for the summer season, and that despite the storm, $80 billion in tourism revenue returned to New Jersey in 2012.

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She and other panelists at the event agreed that 2013 looks even better.

Dr. Israel Posner, executive director of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute, said the consensus at Jersey Shorecast was that “the upcoming season looks very rosy – the stock market is up, gas prices have dropped 60-70 cents in the past few months and those factors produce an increase in discretionary spending.”

Dr. Posner said the season is expected to be further boosted by a number of events, such as the Atlantic City Air Show and the return of the Miss America Pageant.

Panelists included:  Jeff Guaracino, chief communications and strategy officer, Atlantic City Alliance; Lori Peppenella, destination marketing director for the Long Beach Island Region at the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce;  Joseph Kelly, president of the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce; Larry Sieg, vice president of marketing at the Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority; Dr. Michael Busler, associate professor of Business Studies at Stockton and Diane Wieland,  director of the Cape May County Department of Tourism.

Panelists discussed the importance of cultivating the international tourist, and Posner said there has been considerable interest in South Jersey tourist destinations from prospective visitors from Quebec, Europe and China.

Another long-term factor for the area’s success continues to be development of the Atlantic City International Airport and increased cultivation of mid-week business travelers and group travel, Dr. Posner said.

President Saatkamp presented WOND radio host and Press of Atlantic City columnist Pinky Kravitz with the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute’s 2013 Distinguished Leadership Award.

“He’s almost as iconic as the Boardwalk,” Dr. Posner said in introducing Kravitz.

Kravitz has been a leader in promoting countless Atlantic City events, including the Atlantic City Salutes America’s Armed Forces Boardwalk Parade, the Atlantic City Airshow and the return of the Miss America Pageant.

Kravitz said it was “truly an honor and I am most grateful” to receive this award.


Download Photos Here: Distinguished Leadership AwardGrace Hanlon