Superstorm Sandy has not impacted vacation plans for the vast majority of regular visitors to the Jersey Shore, a poll released Monday found.
Nearly one in eight Shore visitors polled by the AAA Clubs of New Jersey said they would still return to Jersey beaches this summer, while one in two said they would be specifically targeting towns impacted by the storm to help businesses get back on their feet.
"The loyalty that New Jerseyans have to their beaches is obvious and the survey reaffirms that people will be making a concentrated effort to support their local communities," said Tracy Noble, a spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic.
Most respondents, 59 percent, said they were planning on spending about the same amount of time at the Shore as they usually have, but 24 percent did say they would cut back. The poll also found that most visitors were planning on making multiple trips to the Shore—twenty percent are planning more than six visits.
Eight-hundred people participated in the survey—600 from New Jersey and 200 from the Philadelphia area. Of those participants, 71 percent said they believed most areas of the Jersey Shore would be open for the summer.
The poll's findings reflect the results from a similar survey conducted by Rutgers' Eagleton Institute of Politics in February. David Redlawsk, a political science professor who directed that poll said that its results showed that the summer tourist season appeared to be "surprisingly stable."
Since the storm ravaged much of the New Jersey coast Oct. 29, businesses, government entities and local residents have been feverishly preparing for Memorial Day, which will kick off the summer season next week.
Demolition crews last week began removing the JetStar roller coaster from the ocean in Seaside Heights. The crippled ride had become a powerful symbol of the storm's destruction. Many towns, including Seaside, Asbury Park and Belmar, have been completing major repairs to their boardwalks, which were ripped apart by the storm.
Money has also been pumped into advertising campaigns aimed at luring tourists to Jersey beaches. The state of New Jersey has allotted $25 million to a marketing push encouraging New Jerseyans and tourists to support local businesses and visit storm-impacted communities. Many local communities have made similar efforts in an attempt to prevent travelers from choosing out-of-state destinations this summer.
Tourism is the third largest industry in New Jersey, which contributed more than $34 billion to the state's gross domestic product in 2012.