Atlantic City Tourist Visits Continue Decline

A report on transportation statistics has found that visitation rates to Atlantic City have fallen to their lowest point since the early 1980s. Visit-trips to Atlantic City in 2017 were 24.1 million representing a 1.2 percent decrease over the previous year's 24.4 million. The 2017 total represents the lowest visit-trip figure since 1982, when there were 22.9 million visit-trips.

Visitation rates to Atlantic City continued to fall in 2017, according to transportation statistics.

Visit-trips to Atlantic City in 2017 were 24.1 million, a 1.2 percent decrease over the previous year’s 24.4 million, according to a report from the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality & Tourism at Stockton University. The figures are compiled by the South Jersey Transportation Authority.

The total represents the lowest visit-trip figure since 1982, when there were 22.9 million visit-trips.

Though the visitation figures continue to decline, the city is hoping for a rebound in 2018 as two new casinos—The Hard Rock Atlantic City on the site of the former Taj Mahal casino and the Ocean Resort casino on the site of the former Revel casino—are scheduled to open this summer. A city campus for Stockton University is also scheduled to open this fall as well as other entertainment and tourist attractions.

“Both casino and hotel properties have supersized casino floors and ample space to include celebrity chef restaurants, exciting entertainment venues, conference and business facilities plus other amenities to attract non-gaming business,” the report said. “The new arrivals to the Atlantic City tourism market can certainly be expected to generate considerable publicity and large crowds. … The result of all this activity should be a significant surge in visit-trips to Atlantic City this summer.”

However, the report warned that the initial surge of interest in the city’s new attractions does not assure that they will continue to generate increased visitation going forward.

In other Atlantic City news, New Jersey State Senator Chris Brown sent a letter to Governor Phil Murphy asking state government to provide Atlantic County with 13.5 percent of the payments in lieu of property taxes that Atlantic City casinos, according to the Press of Atlantic City.

“All along, I have said we should not right-size the city’s budget off the backs of Atlantic County families,” Brown said in the letter. “That is why we were all very disappointed when Governor Chris Christie broke his promise by failing to provide the 13.5 percent in property tax relief. As I informed Murphy Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Kelley, this amounts to $4 million a year in property tax relief for our local families and retirees.”

Atlantic City casinos were put into the payment in lieu of taxes scheme under state law for 10 years in an effort to halt consistent tax appeals by the casino that were ravaging the city’s budget. Atlantic County says they were initially promised 13.5 percent of the collected money, but ultimately received only 10.4 percent.

While the county actually received more tax money from the casinos, they were removed from the county’s ratable base which resulted in higher taxes for other county municipalities, officials have said.

Atlantic County has since sued the state, arguing the PILOT is unconstitutional and that it should be repealed.