So far, it's a gamble that's paid off.
A new, multi-billion-dollar resort that opened in Atlantic City this April seems to have sparked a tourism renaissance in the seaside town, new tourism data shows.
Online searches for hotels in AC "are up a staggering 94% from last year," says Dinah Alobeid, a spokeswoman for travel site Kayak.com. The beach town has jumped from the 10th most popular Memorial Day destination in 2011 to the 3rd most popular this year, Alobeid adds, placing it behind only Las Vegas and New York for the upcoming holiday weekend.
“Overall, the Revel is generating a great deal of exposure for Atlantic City, bringing well-known concerts into the city and giving travelers a new reason to visit," writes Clem Bason, president of the Hotwire Group, in an email to HuffPost Travel. “While we predict overall demand in May for Atlantic City being close to flat, hotels are optimistic the summer will show growth spurred by buzz from Revel and bring an overall increase in the number of events.”
The Revel officially opens Memorial Day weekend with a four-show series headlined by Beyonce.
The Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority also credits a new ad campaign for the booming interest -- and has the numbers to back up the claim: The official Facebook page for visitors has logged more than 18,000 Likes in April alone, both a year-over-year and month-over-month jump.
That digital interest is translating into real-world visits, the Authority says. Passenger vehicle traffic at the Pleasantville Toll Plaza, at the end of the Atlantic City Expressway, is up four percent compared to this time last year; overnight bus traffic into the city has jumped more than 20 percent year-to-date.
Whether the tourism boom will continue through the summer is yet to be seen. The stabbing deaths of two Canadian visitors on Monday shocked locals, but the Press of Atlantic City interviewed a number of other tourists who said the botched robbery attempt didn't particularly scare them.
“Things like this happen in cities, but they happen everywhere," one Illinois woman told the Press. "It happens in Peoria, too.”
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