BELMAR, NJ — Belmar hosted Monmouth County’s official opening of this year’s tourism season on May 20 with a gathering of county and local officials at Taylor Pavilion.
And if the breezy and balmy weather is a harbinger of what’s ahead for the summer, the county is in store for quite a beauty of a tourism season — and Belmar is hoping to be at the top of the list.
Belmar Mayor Mark Walsifer and a contingent of borough officials welcomed the county’s freeholders, other county representatives and mayors from several surrounding communities to the beachfront pavilion for Monmouth’s traditional “summer kick-off” press conference.
Coming on the heels of the New Jersey Seafood Festival this past weekend — attracting an estimated 100,000 to its new venue in downtown Belmar — Walsifer took the opportunity to provide attendees with a rundown of what’s on tap this summer in the busy one-square-mile seashore town.
From classic car cruise nights, Friday night concerts and the debut of Monday night line dancing to the popular sandcastle contest and Sunday night movies on the beach, “we have a lot going on in a small town,” Walsifer said. “And we have our beautiful beach, which can bring in 60,000 (visitors) on a nice weekend, and our marina is always packed up.
But he and Freeholder Director Thomas Arnone both stressed that the tourism season extends well beyond the summer with activities planned throughout the year.
“Tourism season isn’t just the beach, and last year is a perfect example of that,” Arnone said, referring to the rain that fell on 11 of 16 weekends from Memorial Day to Labor Day last summer. “And still we came out ahead in our numbers.”
In 2018, Monmouth County had 8.6 million visitors — an increase from 8.2 million from the previous year, according to the N.J. Division of Travel and Tourism. And they spent nearly $2.6 billion on lodging, food, shopping, recreation, transportation and second homes, the county reported.
The fiscal impact of the tourism industry benefits everyone — from small business owners to the nearly 30,000 residents who have tourism employment, Arnone said in a press release.
Capping today’s event was the announcement of the winners of the third annual Monmouth County Summer Kick-off Poster Contest, open this year to four-graders at Belmar Elementary School.
The school’s entire fourth-grade made the trek on foot from Main Street and 11th Avenue to Fifth and Ocean Avenues to find out who won: Jael Trejo Sanchez took first place honors, followed by Jenna Sharin in second place and Jake Circelli in third.
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