|By Richard Degener, The Press of Atlantic
City, Pleasantville, N.J.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 19, 2012--CAPE MAY -- Retain loyal, long-time tourists and court their kids. The city could also pick off some visitors from neighboring resorts such as the Wildwoods.
Those are the main findings after two years of study by Temple University's School of Tourism and Hospitality Management that concluded on the eve of opening the new $10.5 million Convention Hall.
A public presentation of the City of Cape May Tourism Plan 2012-2020, compiled by Temple students under faculty supervision, was held on Friday morning here at the new hall, which opens to the public officially over Memorial Day weekend.
Temple surveyed several thousand visitors and found they were extremely loyal and talked about how much they love the town. Forty percent of them made three visits in the past three years.
They also found the majority of visitors are in the 51-64 age group followed by 35 to 50 and 65-plus age groups. The draw is a relaxing seashore destination that features arts, culture, history, and eco-tourism opportunities such as bird-watching.
"We learned most visitors are loyal customers. Most visit the city again and again. We find many from the younger generation of loyal visitors came with their parents and have an emotional attachment to the city," said Iis Tussyadiah, an assistant professor at Temple.
The first new tourists to pursue are their children by appealing to their nostalgia from childhood vacations. Tussyadiah said the city could also attract some tourists from other resorts by promoting "The Cape May Way" as a unique niche.
Billed for decades as America's oldest, or sometimes called America's first, seashore resort, Tussyadiah suggested several new slogans including "It's a Cape May Tradition," and "The Cape May Way." The city could advertise events such as free movie nights on the beach and follow it with the slogan "It's a Cape May Tradition." Tussyadiah said this emphasizes the city as a long-established destination.
"This could maintain the existing market and appeal to family bonding," she said.
With the city hoping to use the new hall to extend the tourist season, she said the marketing could be directed to events such as corporate retreats.
"A productive escape -- the Cape May way," the ad would read.
The two-hour presentation of the Temple study also included some infrastructure advice, including creating a defined gateway to the city, consistent streetscapes, and better signage, brochures and maps.
Mayor Ed Mahaney said those who live, work or visit the city all have a vested interest in the plan. Residents were part of the survey work.
"They have a say on how much tourism we should have, what type of tourism it should be, and how we can keep the quality of life," Mahaney said.
Temple will conduct training workshops next week for those working in the hall in preparation for the grand opening on Memorial Day weekend.
Contact Richard Degener:
(c)2012 The Press of Atlantic City (Pleasantville, N.J.)
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