Ocean City closing out summer strong

WASHINGTON — This summer’s wacky weather may have hurt the bottom line at local beach resorts early in the season, but end of summer totals are expected to be strong.

Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan says room tax numbers from June were the highest ever. The Ocean City Hotel-Motel Restaurant Association says Independence Day in July was one of the best ever. And Meehan says longer term condominium rentals have been doing very well.

The beach season however did get off to a slow start. Big events such as the Dew Tour and Air Show allowed hotels to bump rates in order to collect higher totals of room taxes, but record-setting rain in June kept overall visitor numbers down. Periodic stretches of cooler weather also discouraged people from heading to the beach.

“We’ve had a lot of rain,” Susan L. Jones, executive director of the Ocean City Hotel-Motel Restaurant Association says. “And what drives people to the ocean are those really hot 90 degree days and we’ve not really had a lot of those either.”

The Baltimore Sun reports Ocean City visitor numbers were lower this year compared to last in nine out of 12 weeks since late May. Those numbers are based on statistics from Demoflush, which tracks the amount of waste water used.

Jones says Ocean City officials aren’t relying on Demoflush data anymore because energy efficient toilets and water flow patterns have changed the usefulness of the information.

“We’re relying more on what our operators are telling us and also on the room tax, bus rider ship, and parking lot revenues – those types of things,” says Jones.

Jones doesn’t have figures from July and August as yet, but Ocean City’s mayor is optimistic. The year before, 2012, was an exceptional year when Meehan says “all the stars aligned.” And he says the summer season of 2013 is “on pace to meet last year’s totals — if the weather holds.”