Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) identified the Cumberland County, NJ Bayshore as an area in need of assistance following Hurricane Sandy. FEMA assembled a recovery team consisting of diverse partners including municipal, county, state, economic development, tourism, and non-profit organizations. That team identified multiple recovery strategies and highlighted economic development as a priority strategy to help families and businesses fully recover from the natural disaster. From that recommendation, the Tourism and Economic Development (TED) Committee of the Cumberland County Delaware Bayshore was formed.
The neighboring county of Cape May received 12.4 million visitors each year. Thus, there was tremendous potential to increase tourism in Cumberland County, due to proximity to markets and that the quality of the nature preserves, historic sites, pristine landscape, and birding, kayaking, and fishing opportunities in Cumberland County were of similar quality to those in Cape May. Yet, very little was known about the current visitors to the Cumberland County Bayshore – Why were they coming? What were they doing, and were they satisfied with their visit? And perhaps most importantly, in the most rural parts of the Bayshore where cell phone coverage was spotty, were visitors able to locate restaurants and support the local economy?
In 2015, the TED Committee led development and implementation of a tourism survey to answer these questions. See the following Fact Sheet highlighting key results from the survey. The results were used to help prioritize tourism investments in Cumberland County, and also were leveraged to obtain new economic development funding for one organization in the TED Committee.