ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Tourism representatives from the Atlantic
City Convention & Visitors Authority (ACC&VA) want to get
the message out that it's not only about gambling here.
Speros Batistatos, president and chief executive officer, and
Jim Zaleski, vice president of communica-tions for the ACC&VA,
are out to change the image of an Atlantic City vacation.
"We want to offer more and different experiences for visitors so
people will stay longer," Batistatos said.
The ACC&VA is planning advertising campaigns that focus less
on the convention center and the resort's 12 casinos and more on
what the consumer can do in the greater Atlantic City region,
specifically in Cape May and the Wildwoods.
"We are exploring a cooperative television ad campaign with the
South Jersey Transportation Authority," Zaleski said. "We are also
looking to move into more consumer-oriented publications and
market-specific daily publications within the next year or so."
Additionally, the South Jersey Transportation Authority and
Continental Express announced an agreement to begin service between
Cleveland and Atlantic City.
The service is slated to launch June 14 with three roundtrips
daily. The flights will provide connections to cities throughout
the Midwest, Southwest and the West Coast as well as Florida.
According to the officials, there is much to do in the Atlantic
City area, from the nearby Brigantines, where bottlenose dolphins
are sighted from May to October, to Cape May at the Jersey shore's
southern tip, a 45- minute drive on the Garden State Parkway.
Cape May is rich with history. Victorian homes, many used as
bed-and-breakfasts, line the streets that lead to the beach, an
outdoor shopping mall and restaurants. Dolphin- and whale-watching
excursions also are available. "We want to make sure people are
aware of the eco-tourism opportunities that exist," Zaleski
There also are golf courses and art galleries in the area.
Between Atlantic City and Cape May lie the Wildwoods, which
boast five miles of beaches, a two-mile boardwalk with amusement
rides, water parks, shopping and dining.
"People need to want to come [to the Atlantic City area] for
more than just their convention," said Zaleski.
According to the ACC&VA, Atlantic City hosts 33.8 million
visitors a year and is the fourth most-visited destination in the
The ACC&VA brings together the region's varied components to
create travel agent packages, according to Zaleski.
"With our hotel and casino partners, we also host a number of
fams for travel agents," he said.
There are 16,000 hotel rooms in Atlantic City. By 2005, the
ACC&VA expects that number to rise to 20,000. According to
Batistatos, the average occupancy rate here is between 90% and
"The city itself is changing, but it's not being told
nationally," said Zaleski.
Among the changes that could influence tourism are increased
funding for rebuilding the city's neighborhoods and a $13 million
project to enhance the resort's sidewalks and thoroughfares.
In addition, the historic Boardwalk Convention Hall, home of the
Miss America Pageant, is undergoing the final phase of a $95
million rehabilitation. Scheduled to open in the fall, the building
will accommodate 12,000 people and host some 150 events a year.
Atlantic City is one hour from Philadelphia, two hours from New
York and two-and-a-half hours from Washington.
For more information, call (609) 449-7126 or visit the Web at www.atlanticcitynj.com.